Our focus last week was to  continue to engage and interact with the consultation process as much as possible. We have been very encouraged  and supported by the scrutiny and challenge that has been given to the process by the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committees across the region. Following their meeting with NHS England on 15 March, the Health Scrutiny Committee for Lincolnshire has submitted a very robust consultation response to NHS England.

This response not only makes some very informed challenges to the proposals, but also makes some recommendations to NHS England within the jurisdiction of its role as a Health Scrutiny Committee which will require a direct response. The response has been made available to the HOSCs across the region for reference and we are very grateful for the continuing high quality input to this process from Cllr Mrs Talbot and her team and indeed the Chairs and members of all the other East Midlands Overview Scrutiny Committees (OSCs).

Following the staff and public consultation meetings we have been continuing an informal dialogue with NHS England. As part of that process, I met with Will Huxter last week. We discussed the progress we are making in relation to our growth plan and have agreed a timetable by which we will submit further details to NHS England. We also agreed that we would then meet with NHS England to review and discuss the plan to try to ensure that a shared understanding is achieved within the consultation period. You will recall that during the consultation meetings NHS England colleagues said that the growth plan was now the key outstanding issue.

Mr Huxter was reassured that the recent changes to our surgical team have provided the necessary stability to manage the surgical caseload whilst we undergo the necessary process to attract another surgeon. We look forward to working with NHS England to meet the standards and provide the clarity regarding our future that ensures our service continues to attract the best talent possible.

The team of volunteers who have been helping as many people as possible understand the proposals and have their say in the consultation process have been extremely busy. We have shared the consultation document, questions and key themes with hundreds of people and have set up sessions to help those without internet access to respond online.

We even managed to share the details with the Mayhem Motorcycle club who arrived to donate a huge pile of Easter Eggs to the fantastic HeartLink charity on Sunday. The eggs will be shared with Ward 30, PICU and Outpatients and we are ‘Eggstremely grateful’ (!) for the eggs and the consultation responses.

The support we receive from our volunteers is incredible, and will help us to ensure the East Midlands provides the most effective response to the consultation process. Please do go online and have your say on http://www.eastmidlandscongenitalheart.nhs.uk/consultation/

In the news

Finally, below is a roundup of all the media coverage we have received over the last week:

Saturday 25 March

Hinckley Times

Closure-threatened heart unit unveils new lorry signs

Campaigners fighting to save specialist heart services at Glenfield Hospital have a new mobile weapon in their social media armoury.  A Leicestershire logistics firm, C S Ellis Holdings Ltd, has painted up its fleet of lorries with the Hold on to our Hearts logo.

Tuesday 4 April 

Leicester Mercury

Glenfield Heart Unit: “There is everything to fight for still”

Parents with children born with heart disease will face long and difficult journeys for life-saving treatments if NHS officials push ahead with plans to stop children’s heart surgery at Glenfield Hospital warns Rutland County councillor Richard Clifton.