"Can you imagine how we feel knowing that our precious daughter could have to travel for hours in an emergency situation to get to life saving surgery when she may not have hours? If you go ahead with your proposal children will die, it's a simple as that. How can that ever be an acceptable outcome?"
This was one of the moving and powerful speeches from patients, families and campaigners at the 'public consultation' meeting in Leicester on 9 March over the threatened closure of the East Midlands Congenital Heart Centre at Glenfield Hospital by NHS England (NHSE).
NHSE representatives were battered for two hours, not just by the emotions of parents, but crucially the dismantling of the logical flaws in their arguments. What was clear was that the main argument for ending surgery was an unscientific, arbitrary target of 125 operations per surgeon a year.
But NHSE choose to call it a 'standard' below which surgeons do not get enough experience of a wide range of cases and, unbelievably, are attempting to impose this retrospectively.
One controversial point was that many in the audience believed that cuts in the NHS were behind this, which was vehemently denied by NHSE. The hospital trust chief executive, who is opposing the closure, pointed out that it would cost a lot of money to close Glenfield and then create capacity elsewhere.
However Socialist Party members think that the mindset of NHSE that 'centralisation is good' is created by the context of massive cuts in the NHS and it would probably mean cuts in the long term.
Before the meeting and during it, a protest organised by the Save Glenfield Children's Heart Centre campaign took place outside, highlighting the fact that the public consultation meeting was inadequate and many were not able to get in. We will continue to campaign through the consultation and beyond to stop this closure.
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