Controversial plans to close the closest children’s heart service to Lincolnshire could move a step closer after today.
The consultation period on proposals that could see the crucial service provided at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester shut down ends today, July 17.
NHS bosses are planning to move the service further west to Birmingham – more than 100 miles away from Lincolnshire – as they believe under the current provision it is unable to meet new standards.
This would mean that parents based in the county would face an extra 40 minutes on top of their journey to get their children specialist treatment for critical illnesses.
The idea has been strongly opposed by many, with 130,000 people signing a petition clearly stating they are against the plans.
Professor Huon Gray, national clinical director for NHS England, told Lincolnshire families on June 22 that he did not believe the move would cause any clinical harm.
He told the BBC: “I am not saying it’s not a good thing to have carers as close to home as possible. It is the case that what we are trying to do is ensure consistent, highest quality care across the whole country.
“We do not believe that patients will come to clinical harm as a consequence of the extra travel time involved.
“Inconvenience is something that is a separate matter that we acknowledge.”
Gill Smart, treasurer of Heart Link, a children’s charity, has previously told Lincolnshire Live: “I worked in the heart centre. It doesn’t need to close.
“We’re not a production line, these are children’s lives they’re playing with. We do fantastic work.
“That’s what it’s all about – giving the children a better chance in life.”
Mr Smart added: “They’re not going to save money anyway. If they close one unit down and have to move them somewhere else it’s still going to cost money in the long run.
“The NHS at the moment is in such a mess.”
Heart Link committee member John Rigby, whose daughter has had five operations at Glenfield, previously told Lincolnshire Live he didn’t believe people were being told the truth.
He said: “I think NHS England has got some hidden agenda. It’s scandalous.
“They want to close this hospital and send people to Birmingham or Leeds.
“It’s going to put additional strains on those hospitals, particularly Birmingham, and it’s for no apparent reason at all.”