Royal Brompton hospital/Safe & Sustainable review-reply from my local MP Glenda Jackson

Have you ever asked yourself what is democracy and does it really exist? To answer this complicated question would require a lot of research and many ‘minds’ but I was recently pondering this issue, trying to compare what democracy means in Russia and the UK and more importantly how it translates into action in real life.

In Russia people elect their deputies (deputaty) into the State Duma, yet as soon as the vast majority of those people enter office, they forget about the people, who elected them into the public (!) office, and their election promises and get on with enjoying the privileges and increasing their wealth and public profile for personal benefit. In the UK, on the other hand, the rules of the game vary significantly. MPs are very concious throughout their time in the office to whom they owe their position and make sure they meet with their constituents and take their responsibilities seriously (not to say that there aren’t people who take advantage, but nowhere close to the level it is common in Russia).

You probably remember my post about Royal Brompton Hospital and their plight in regards to the possibility of closureGJ2 of their paediatric cardiac services. I e-mailed my local M.P. Glenda Jackson, not really hoping to hear from her, as my e-mail was sent too close to the case being heard in Court. Yet, to my very pleasant surprise, I received a personal letter from her on October 20th, which addressed the issue raised on my behalf with Rt Honorary Simon Burns MP (Minister of State for Health). His position, unfortunately, did nothing to answer my concerns. The Minister was reluctant to engage with the issue raised, so Glenda Jackson M.P. suggested that we await the outcome of the panel’s deliberation.

While I greatly appreciate my MPs involvement in the cause very close to my heart, I don’t understand the position of the Health Minister. In the copy of his reply to Glenda Jackson  he states that

‘the
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Royal Brompton Hospital-please help to save their children’s services

Last week I attended not a glamorous presentation or a frivolous party, but an annual members meeting at the Royal Brompton Hospital in Chelsea. Truth be told, RBH is a very special place and I care for this hospital deeply, as incredibly kind and knowledgeable professionals work there, doing their utmost best to help their patients to get well. As Mr. Robert Bell, RBH’s Chief Executive said in his address, they ‘treat humans who have a heart or lung disease’. Last year alone this hospital, which has two sites, 450 beds and 3,000 staff, performed 424 life-saving operation on children, many of whom couldn’t have survived without their surgeries.

What never ceases to amaze me that is that Brompton hospital accepts many very sick patients that other hospitals aren’t equipped to treat, yet their mortality rate remains one of the lowest across UK hospitals board-and believe me when I say that they treat very sick children and adults indeed.

People who work at Brompton, be it the catering team, the nurses, the surgeons, dietitians, pharmasists or a physios not only are incredibly skilled, but most of them possess almost un-human empathy for their patients, not only that, they also extend incredible kindness and help to the families of their patients.

I was rendered speechless, and believe me, it’s a rare occurrence, when in February as part of Safe and Sustainable review of children’s heart services in England by joint committee of primary care trusts, it has been recommended that Royal Brompton’s heart surgery for children should stop-if that happens, all other services for children treated at Brompton will follow, including their long-term cystic fibrosis patients. Royal Brompton hospital, where Diana, Princess of Wales used to be a patron, is primarily heart and lung hospital, well known all over the world, yet some bureaucrat who obviously doesn’t care about the people and who has never experienced the anguish of a child being incredibly sick because his heart is failing, thought it is a good idea to take away the cardiac surgery away from Brompton.

What is this country coming to, if someone in the high political or bureaucratic hierarchy is even contemplating the idea of closing one of the best hospitals this country has-what chance would sick children with heart and lung disease stand to be treated-and time is precious commodity for many of those children, sometimes it’s a matter of days, if not hours. I have seen children go from struggling for a breath, while they await surgery or an organ transplant (with cystic fibrosis it’s often not only the lungs that are ravaged by disease, by stomach and heart too for example), to them making an amazing recovery due to superhuman efforts of the Brompton team-doctors do work in shifts there, but they often overstay their hours, going beyond their call of duty and every day making it their professional mission to find the solution to the most complicated problem-bear in mind that even the most experienced surgeon doesn’t get paid anywhere close to the bonuses bankers receive and even very experienced cardiac nurses struggle financially, yet they all give so much more to society with amazing dignity and grace, when the stresses and pressures of their jobs are enormous.

Doctors and nurses see deaths on a daily basis and one would think that in order for them to do their job and remain sane in the process, they need to distance themselves, think pragmatically and logically, but I know for a fact that

Brompton’s
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