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Thursday, September 16, 1999 Published at 19:02 GMT 20:02 UK

UK: Scotland

Glasgow wins child surgery bid

Edinburgh has lost out to Yorkhill Hospital in Glasgow

Glasgow has been chosen as the single site for specialist children's heart surgery in Scotland in the next century.

BBC Scotland's Leslie Anderson reports on the new unit
At present, cardiac surgery for children is available in Glasgow and Edinburgh but it has been decided to concentrate expertise at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Yorkhill.

The announcement has been made by Health Minister Susan Deacon after assessing the merits of Yorkhill against those of the Edinburgh Sick Children's Hospital.

'Damaging rivalry'

But she strongly criticised the "public rivalry" between the Glasgow and Edinburgh options which had been "very damaging to patients".

[ image: Susan Deacon:
Susan Deacon: "Criticised rivalry"
Ms Deacon said: "This has been an extremely hard decision to make. Both hospitals provide an excellent standard of service.

"However, it is a decision that simply has to be made if we are to continue to provide children and parents in Scotland with the highest possible standards of care.

"All the clinicians concerned agree on the need to concentrate the service on one site. The numbers of children requiring this type of treatment are falling - now just 300 children each year," added Ms Deacon.

She said the figure was insufficient to sustain the specialised skills and services involved on two sites.

Charles Swainson: "Glasgow has benefits"
Charles Swainson, Medical Director of Lothian University Hospitals Trust, said he was "a little disappointed" for the staff who had worked hard to try to bring the centre to Edinburgh.

But he conceded: "Glasgow have already invested a lot of money in Yorkhill whereas we would have to make that investment here in Edinburgh with an additional cardiac catheterisation laboratory for example.

"There are a lot of children in Glasgow around Yorkhill from lower income families and for them, it would be more difficult to get to Edinburgh than it would be for children from Edinburgh to get to Glasgow."

New services

Nearly two-thirds of paediatric cardiac surgery cases were already dealt with at Yorkhill, which had a wider range of services and others about to be introduced.

"Nobody is trying to create a Great Ormond Street of the North - at Yorkhill or anywhere else," Ms Deacon went on.

[ image: Two-thirds of cases are dealt with in Glasgow]
Two-thirds of cases are dealt with in Glasgow
"We must also remember the importance of children's services outwith the central belt. We need Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh to work together to provide a full range of services which cover the needs of all Scotland.

"With a heavy heart, I have to state that the very public rivalry which seems to have been encouraged between the Glasgow and Edinburgh options has been very damaging to patients.

"Scaremongering, whispering campaigns and turf wars are not the way to modernise services for the benefit of patients.

"Politicians, administrators, and clinicians have a duty and a responsibility to explain and inform change to patients - especially change which is universally recognised as being to the benefit of our children.

"I hope all those concerned will now unite behind the decision and work together to develop the best possible services for children across Scotland."

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