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Update on External Review of Children’s Heart Services in Belfast


Northern Ireland’s Health and Social Care Board (HSCB), in conjunction with the Public Health Agency, has commissioned an independent expert panel to carry out an external review of children’s heart services at the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.

The Health Minister announced at the end of March that the HSCB would commission an external review to examine the safety and sustainability of the service. This follows an analysis of mortality data which suggested a higher than expected mortality rate for one particular surgical procedure between 2007 and 2010.

The aim of the review is to ensure that children with serious heart conditions continue to receive high quality, safe and sustainable care.

The independent expert panel will be chaired by Professor Sir Ian Kennedy and will include clinicians with a background in the care of children with complex heart conditions. The panel will visit the centre and meet with clinicians, families and parent group representatives during April. They will also consider all relevant information, including material provided by the Royal hospitals, before compiling a report which will be forwarded to the HSC Board by the end of May 2012.

This review is separate to the Safe and Sustainable review of children’s congenital heart services in England. However, the review will consider the current services provided in Belfast, taking account of the Safe and Sustainable national quality standards, which have been endorsed by the relevant professional associations in the United Kingdom.

A separate review of the surgical outcomes within this specialty area is being taken forward by the Belfast Trust in line with best practice.


Panel members

Professor Sir Ian Kennedy (Chair), Chairman of the Public Inquiry into children’s heart surgical services at the Bristol Royal Infirmary, and Former Chair of the Healthcare Commission

Mr James Monro, Consultant Cardiac Surgeon, Southampton General Hospital (retired)

Dr Michael Godman, Consultant Paediatric Cardiologist, Royal Hospital for Sick Children Edinburgh (retired)

Maria von Hildebrand, lay representative

Dr Neil Morton, Consultant in Paediatric Anaesthesia and Pain Management, Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow

Sally Ramsay, independent adviser in children’s nursing

Julia Stallibrass MBE, former Deputy Director of National Specialised Commissioning

Dr Roy Sievers, Consultant Paediatrician with Expertise in Cardiology, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust