On Saturday 18 March, more than 1,000 doctors, nurses and patients will take to the streets of Chelsea in protest against NHS England’s proposal to close the vital congenital heart disease (CHD) service at Royal Brompton Hospital.
Royal Brompton operates the largest CHD service in the UK and consistently has among the best patient outcomes in the country. It also has high patient satisfaction levels, with over 98 percent of patients saying that they would recommend the cardiology service.
The march to save these vital services has been organised by the three charities associated with Royal Brompton Hospital: The Brompton Fountain, Friends of Royal Brompton Hospital and Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals Charity.
Among the marchers will be patients, parents of patients, doctors and nurses who oppose the plans, which will affect an estimated 14,000 patients and would result in the closure of other vital services, such as the hospital’s paediatric intensive care unit, children’s cystic fibrosis service and children’s asthma service. The hospital’s world-class CHD research teams would also be destroyed if the plan goes ahead.
“Patients and parents are very fearful about what might happen if these proposals go ahead and are struggling to have their views heard; no-one is listening to them,” said Consultant Paediatric Electrophysiologist and Co-director of Children’s Services at Royal Brompton Dr Jan Till, who will be among the marchers on Saturday.
“We are marching together to show that we fully support our patients and believe these proposals and this process to be a disgraceful sham. NHS England has no evidence that care will be improved and yet are willing to gamble with the safety and lives of patients with congenital heart disease.”
A staunch supporter of the fight against NHS England’s plans, Baroness Boothroyd, Former Speaker of the House of Commons, will rouse marchers at the beginning of the day.
“I have been a patient at Royal Brompton for many years and have had the most superb care and treatment. Royal Brompton has an outstanding record with among the best patient outcomes in the country,” she said.
“Closure of the CHD Services by NHS England is an ill thought out proposal. It would mean the hospital could no longer sustain its paediatric intensive care unit and treatment of some of the most complex and rare respiratory diseases would end. World-leading heart disease research would also suffer.”
Marchers will be joined by members of the official Olympic drumming band and are encouraged to bring their own noise, in response to NHS England’s failure to listen to patients and their families so far. They will also wear red in a striking display of solidarity.
21 MPs from across London and the south of England have also called on Jeremy Hunt to halt plans to end CHD services at Royal Brompton Hospital.
The MPs, from all political parties, signed a letter to the Health Secretary opposing the proposed closure of the largest congenital heart disease service in the country.