Hospital bosses call for people to join rally for heart unit

Bosses at Southampton’s teaching hospitals are appealing to people across the south of England to join a public rally on Tuesday (24 May) and show support for one of the country’s leading centres for children’s heart surgery.

Hundreds of patients and their families will join MPs, staff and members of the public in Guildhall Square to have their say on NHS Safe and Sustainable proposals to close up to four centres in England.

They will be joined by the Cutting It and Mistresses actress Sarah Parish, who is fighting for the world-class unit to stay open.

The rally, which will run from 4pm to 6pm, coincides with two public meetings at Southampton Guildhall, where the people behind the plans will take questions.

Southampton faces closure despite being a centre of excellence with the expertise to perform the most complex and difficult operations.

An independent review of the 11 centres that currently provide this service rated the city’s unit the second highest in the country for quality.

Mark Hackett, chief executive of SUHT, said: “I believe the NHS must recognise that this centre has been setting standards for children’s heart surgery nationally for a number of decades and if it closes this will affect quality for patients.

“More than 85,000 people have already signed their names in support of the campaign and momentum is growing by the day, so we want as many of them as possible to come forward and give their backing in person.”

Due to demand for places at the consultation meetings in Southampton, which take place from 3pm to 5pm and 6pm to 8pm, NHS Safe and Sustainable has increased the number of spaces available.

Anyone who wants to attend can register at www.eventsforce.net/safeandsustainable.

Posted on Friday 20 May 2011