Hospital heart unit backed by parents

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THOUSANDS of people including families from Hartlepool and east Durham took part in a major review of children’s NHS heart services.

A four-month consultation, which could result in the closure of the child heart unit at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital, has ended.

The Safe and Sustainable consultation asked for people’s views on proposals to provide the specialist services at fewer, larger centres across the country.

The NHS says it will make heart services safe and sustainable for the future and provide care closer to home.

Hartlepool parents whose children have had lifesaving heart operations at the Freeman supported the hospital in their responses to the review. They included Shane Moore and partner Suzanne McKenzie, of West View, whose three-year-old, Henry, had open heart surgery when he was just three months old.

And Rikki Kinsella and Michelle Groom, from the Rossmere area, backed the Freeman after it saved the life of their two-year-old son, Ryan.

They were among 1,430 people from the North-East who took part in the consultation, which has had almost 60,000 responses nationally.

The responses will be analysed by the independent Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts, which is expected to make a final decision by the end of the year.

Any changes to children’s congenital heart services are expected to start in 2013.