Socialist Party
| Print

3 January 2018

Heart unit rescued by campaigning saves baby with pioneering surgery

Lenny Shail, Coventry West Socialist Party

The heroic victory of thousands of community campaigners in Leicester to defend their congenital heart surgery unit, with Socialist Party members playing a leading role, was vindicated straight away. The news arrived just before Christmas that days-old Vanellope Hope Wilkins had been saved there.

Surgeons in the rescued heart centre at Glenfield Hospital carried out a pioneering operation to correct a rare condition that caused Vanellope's heart to grow outside her body, 'ectopia cordis'.

With chances of survival less than 10%, the tremendous skill and dedication of staff at the hospital saved the baby's life in a series of procedures that started within seconds of her birth. They involved 50 staff, three operations, and the construction of an artificial ribcage over the course of a week.

NHS England bosses should be ashamed and embarrassed after their attempts to shut down the unit last year. They only failed because of the tremendous battle by local residents and workers.

Socialist Party member Steve Score, chair of Save Glenfield Children's Heart Centre, said: "Incredible skill shown by staff. It's unbelievable that NHS England bosses wanted to close this centre until their recent u-turn.

"The Save Glenfield Children's Heart Centre campaign is enormously proud of our role in saving this centre that saves children's lives. People power can win."

NHS England's arguments for closure were flawed from the start. The targets bosses wanted to set - 125 operations per surgeon per year - were arbitrary. Closure of the heart centre would have left the East Midlands as the only region in England without a specialised unit.


The campaign involved thousands in a large number of demonstrations and meetings, with 130,000 people signing the petition. It helped 7,500 people engage in a deliberately complicated 'consultation' exercise.

Importantly, community campaigners linked up with the trade union movement, getting backing from local and regional union bodies.

The operations to save the life of Vannellope Wilkins demonstrate even more the importance of fighting to save every aspect of our NHS.

They also give a glimpse of what more would be possible if the NHS was publicly owned and properly funded, with genuine democratic control involving the workers and users of the service.

But of course the war is far from over. The many local struggles need to be linked up - which 'Health Campaigns Together' aims to do. And health union leaders need to listen members and call industrial action.

We need to unite the communities fighting for their local services with each other and with trade unions in the NHS and beyond, and campaign for a national fightback to save our NHS.

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube


triangle14 Aug Victory: NHS workers say no to privatisation

triangle8 Aug The fight against Labour's Blairites and TUSC's role now

triangle8 Aug Break the pay cap - the fight continues!

triangle8 Aug Antisemitism slanders against Corbyn

triangle7 Aug Turn the heat on the bosses not the bus drivers!

triangle7 Aug No to Tory plans for radioactive waste under national parks

triangle7 Aug Birmingham home carers strike

More ...


triangle9 Sep Manchester: NSSN pre-TUC rally

triangle16 Aug Waltham Forest Socialist Party: Global warming

triangle16 Aug Bradford Socialist Party: Socialism - those big questions

triangle16 Aug East London Socialist Party: The matchgirls' strike of 1888


Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551


What we Stand For

About the Socialist Party

Our 2015 election manifesto

Joining the Socialist Party - what will it mean for you


Alphabetical listing

August 2018

July 2018

June 2018

May 2018

April 2018

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018