‘don’t Close Heart Units’

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PARENTS yesterday spoke out in opposition to the closure of four specialist children’s heart units.

The ‘Safe and Sustainable’ review of children’s heart surgery recommended that over a third of units in England, including London, should stop operating.

The report claimed patient safety and care would be improved if resources were merged.

A consultation document was published, which proposes the end of surgery at units in London, Leeds and Leicester. Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital has already stopped its operations.

Fiona Spensley, mother of Sophie, who was treated at the JRH with a pioneering treatment, a heart pump, told News Line: ‘Emergency cases like Sophie’s would die under this arrangement. Not all cases can be transported.

‘The review is just talking about congenital heart disease, but there are cases like Sophie’s and cases of accidents that are not covered.

‘Children such as Down’s Syndrome children with heart problems often have bowel problems that need to be treated at the same time.

‘My own daughter had a stroke and an infection and needed support from neuro-psychologists and infectious diseases specialists as well as heart surgery.

‘The John Radcliffe Hospital currently provides heart services for foetuses right through to old age.

‘They have a brand new heart hospital and a brand new children’s hospital.

‘They have a specialist maternity unit. Mothers who have heart conditions often have babies with heart conditions – under this reorganisation the babies will have to be transported away from the mothers immediately that they’re born.

‘So it really doesn’t make sense.’

• Second news story

UNEMPLOYMENT UP!

OFFICIAL unemployment figures in the UK rose to 2.5 million in the final three months of 2010, with youth unemployment hitting a record high of just under one million.

The figures, from the Office for National Statistics put overall unemployment at 7.9 per cent and youth unemployment at 20.5 per cent.

One 16 to 24-year-old in five is now unemployed, with the total rising by 66,000 to 965,000 in the final quarter of last year.

The number of employees working in part-time jobs fell by 62,000, with the ONS highlighting that this fall occurred ‘entirely among women’.

Nigel Meager, director of the Institute for Employment Studies, said: ‘Long-term unemployment continues to rise, with 833,000 now out of work for more than a year.

‘The number of unemployed young people also rose again and has reached the highest figure since comparable data were collected.

‘Young people have been severely affected by the continuing low level of vacancies and the difficulties they face in competing with more experienced jobseekers.

‘The disappearance of government programmes to help young unemployed, and the removal of the education maintenance allowance will not have helped the situation.

‘Being unemployed in their teens or twenties has an impact on young people’s entire working life.’

Ian Brinkley, director of socio-economic programmes at The Work Foundation, said that ‘the labour market as a whole is turning into a major crisis for young people’.

He added: ‘The other major casualty of the contraction in the labour market has been women, almost certainly reflecting mounting job losses in the public sector and non-public providers of public services.’

Dave Prentis, Unison General Secretary, said: ‘Women and young people seem to have been abandoned by the Tories. Both groups are really struggling in this shrinking jobs market.’  

Paul Kenny GMB General Secretary said: ‘This rise is no surprise since the government itself, with the vocal support of the bankers who caused the recession, is deliberately creating unemployment with public sector cuts.’