*A NEW review was launched yesterday into the future shape of NHS services for adults born with heart defects.
Growing numbers of people are living longer with congenital heart disease which affects around one in 133 people who need lifelong care.
But many services have developed piecemeal prompting concerns over outcomes for patients amid evidence surgeons in some hospitals are carrying out only a handful of operations.
Changes are likely to include a new model of care where services are organised within a specialist network.
A draft set of standards to be met by hospitals carrying out work in the field is being drawn up which is expected to lead to a concentration of surgical expertise in specialist centres.
Experts will visit hospitals which wish to provide services to assess their capabilities before a national consultation offering a range of options over the shape of care is carried out next year.
Prof John Deanfield, acting chairman of the Adult Congenital Heart Disease Advisory Group, said: “Services for this patient group need to be developed to evolve with the growing patient population.
“Patients, families, carers and clinicians should all have an opportunity to ensure that they have a service that is world class.”
Michael Cumper, chairman of the Grown Up Congenital Heart Patients’ Association, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for people with congenital heart disease to help shape the future of their service.
“I would encourage everyone who accesses these services to make their views known and to feed into this incredibly important process.”
The exercise is separate to a controversial review of children’s heart surgery.
Officials announced yesterday that final decision over the review, which could see surgery for youngsters axed in Yorkshire, will be streamed live over the internet on July 4.
Sir Neil McKay, chairman of the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts which will make the decision, said: “We want to ensure that the many people who took the time to respond during consultation are able to view this important decision-making meeting.
“This is a difficult but necessary decision which will be made only after careful consideration of the consultation responses, including other options, and all the relevant evidence available to us.”
Over the next few weeks, parent groups and charities, hospitals, professional associations and other interested groups will be asked to nominate representatives to attend the meeting.
For further information about the adult review call 0207 025 7520 or go to www.nhsspecialisedservices.nhs.uk. The deadline for submissions is July 27.