AN ISLE OF WIGHT health watchdog has added its support for moves to ensure children’s heart services are retained at Southampton Hospital.
Members of the Isle of Wight Council’s Health and Wellbeing Panel voted unanimously in favour of keeping the services at Southampton.
The discussion was a response to government proposals that include the option of moving children’s heart facilities away from Southampton. Only one option (Option B) proposes retention of the facility there.
The decision of the panel to oppose any such move echoes the views of the NHS IW. The panel felt the facility should remain at Southampton both because of its closeness to the Island and also because of the high quality service provided there. Healthcare would be ‘seriously affected’ by a move out of Southampton,
At its meeting on Wednesday, the panel heard evidence including that of the Island’s director of public health Dr Jenifer Smith, Dr Ian MacIntosh, consultant at the children’s heart unit and Dawn Cousins IW Council cabinet member for children’s services.
The meeting also heard from residents who had benefited from the treatment at Southampton and also members of the IW Youth Council. Member Jonathan Bacon also spoke in favour or retaining the service in Southampton on behalf of a constituent who had also benefited from care provided there.
The panel decided to fully endorse Option B on the grounds that it was the only facility that would meet the needs of Island patients including adults. Furthermore it agreed facilities should also be retained at Bristol and that this option should be explores further as part of the review.
The panel is also to complain to relevant bodies – including the MP – that the application of postcodes alone did not reflect the specific transport issues of a community such as the Island.
In addition, it is to ask the IW Youth Council to make its own representations in support of retaining the service at Southampton.
After the meeting, chairman Margaret Webster said: “The meeting heard a lot of evidence from a wide variety of interests and the view was clear and unequivocal: keeping this specialist service at Southampton is best for the region and certainly best for the people of the Island.
“We will make this view known to the powers that be and would hope that others – including groups, individuals and organisations would do the same as this is an issue that the Island can and should really unite behind.”
Also after the meeting, Cllr Cousins said she would be tabling a motion to full council seeking its support for retention of the facility at Southampton.
“This is an internationally renowned heart unit is one of three esteemed centres of excellence in the UK and is unquestionably best placed to serve the south east region and – most importantly - the Island,” she said.
“The flawed nature of the consultation paper which seemingly excluded the Island’s needs for special consideration on issues such as accessibility was, quite frankly, worrying.”