THE Prior family are desperate to help secure the future of a top performing children’s heart unit.
And that is why they joined hundreds of other families, doctors, nurses and politicians yesterday at a demonstration in Southampton.
The family from Locks Heath have a close connection to the children’s cardiac centre at Southampton General Hospital, as nine-year-old Aaron has had numerous open-heart operations and check-ups there.
But, as previously reported, the unit is under threat as part of a national review which is recommending fewer larger centres should be created in England.
Four options for where these centres should be have been put forward and despite being rated as the second highest performing of 11 in the country, Southampton is only included in one of the options.
Hoping the demonstration sent a clear message to health bosses, mum Sam said: ‘The rally was all about getting a point across – that no one wants the unit to close and there’s lots of people who have a view on this.
‘Southampton is one of the best units around. It will be a complete travesty if we lose it and it could have implications on other services too, like the paediatric intensive care unit.’
Mrs Prior and her family also attended a consultation meeting yesterday at Southampton Guildhall.
The NHS Safe and Sustainable Steering Group, which is leading the review of children’s heart units, was there to listen to people’s views and answer questions.
Mrs Prior, of Elder Close, said: ‘I wanted to speak during the meeting, as a parent representative, to show the strength of feeling about this issue.
‘I hope the panel will listen.’
If Southampton’s unit closes, families who use the centre from across our area, will instead have to go to units in London or Bristol – which have not been rated as highly.
The NHS is urging people to carry on having their say on the proposals.
Leslie Hamilton, president for the Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery and vice chairman of the Safe and Sustainable Steering Group, said: ‘I urge patients and families to respond to the consultation. This is the most important opportunity people will have to directly influence the outcome of the consultation.’
To have your say, comment online at specialisedservices.nhs.uk/safeandsustainable. Or you can text the word HEART to 85001 free of charge, and you will be sent a question asking for your view.