Heart unit closures must not affect parents’ ability to stay near their children

July 2012

Responding to the decision taken by the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) on the future of children’s heart surgery, Jon Haward, Director of Ronald McDonald House Charities, says:

“The decision to close a further three children’s heart surgery units has now been taken. This will have a significant impact on the distance families have to travel to get their child the best medical treatment. Many will struggle to stay together as a family and stay close to their child.

“Ronald McDonald House Charities provides free ‘home away from home’ accommodation at hospitals across the UK. It provides more than 450 bedrooms to families every night of the year. Unfortunately, despite the Charity’s best efforts, demand outstrips supply. This can mean financial devastation, separation for family members and long daily commutes. In some cases, parents resort to sleeping in cars so they can be near their seriously ill child.

“The closure of four out of 11 heart surgery units will only increase the demand for parental accommodation, as children being treated in the centres of excellence will in many cases have to travel longer distances.

“Research shows that children benefit from having their parents close by when they are in hospital. To this end the Charity intends to look into how it can best adapt to these changes so that more of the 3,800 children who undergo heart surgery each year are able to have their families close by for comfort and support.”

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Further information: Alex Goldup/Patricia Orr. T. 020 7240 4646   M. 07791 765 915/07889 140 139


Notes to editor

1. A spokesperson from Ronald McDonald House Charities is available. Please contact Alex Goldup or Patricia Orr using the details above.

2. The Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) announced on Wednesday 4 July that three hospitals are to stop performing heart surgery on children. They are Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, Leeds General Infirmary and the Royal Brompton in Chelsea, west London. The John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford carried out heart surgery on children until 2010 but had already been ruled out of the running to become one of the specialist centres.

3. Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) is an independent charity which provides free ‘home away from home’ accommodation at hospitals and hospices across the UK. It enables seriously ill children to have their families close by when they are undergoing treatment and allows them to maintain a degree of normal family life.

4. The charity is currently funding independent research into the impact that accommodation, like that provided by Ronald McDonald House Charities, has on the families of children in hospital. Results are expected in Autumn 2012.

5. Since 1990 the charity has opened 15 Ronald McDonald Houses which, together with over 25 sets of Ronald McDonald Family Rooms, provide more than 450 bedrooms to families every night of the year.

6. The Charity relies on the generosity of supporters and fundraisers, including McDonald’s customers, without whom it would be unable to continue its work.

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