Heart-unit supporters struggling ‘in limbo’

ON TENTERHOOKS -- Lydia Kram with her daughter, Natalia, who underwent a life-saving operation at Glenfield
ON TENTERHOOKS -- Lydia Kram with her daughter, Natalia, who underwent a life-saving operation at Glenfield

FRETTING Hucknall parents say they are “left in limbo” while they wait for a decision on whether a life-saving hospital unit will be shut down.

As reported in the Dispatch earlier this year, the specialist East Midlands Congenital Heart Centre at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester is under threat as part of a government review of similar services.

Among those lives saved by operations and treatment at the world-renowned unit are Hucknall youngsters Natalia Kram (seven) and Michael Keeling (16), both of Hucknall.

Natalia’s mum, Lydia Kram, of Ogle Street, and Michael’s parents, Alison and Jez, were among hundreds of campaigners who turned out for special meetings held at The former Walkers Stadium in Leicester as part of a consultation into the plans.

But now they say they are waiting on tenterhooks for a decision.

Lydia said: “It’s like someone you know has been diagnosed with a terminal disease. You know they are going to die but you don’t know when.

“This is now a waiting game for everyone involved. A lot of children who have had operations at Glenfield have to have regular follow-up appointments but they just don’t know where they stand.

“This is a complete nightmare for everyone.”

Plans under consideration would see the number of children’s heart-surgery units nationwide cut from 11 to six or seven.

Glenfield features in just one of the four options put forward by NHS chiefs.

Should Glenfield close, locals from Hucknall and Bulwell would have to go to Birmingham and possibly as far afield as Newcastle for specialist treatment.

Alison Keeling has been involved with Glenfield for years, Michael has been under the hospital’s care since he was a baby and underwent an operation there two years ago that was so trailblazing it was watched by 120 medics from around the world.

She said: “We are completely in limbo at the moment. No-one seems to know what is going on.

“We will have to wait and see for the final decision, but I get the impression that it is all done and dusted. I know that is hoe a lot of people feel.”

Alison’s sentiments were echoed by Lydia, who said: “I think they know what will happen. They should just tell us as soon as possible.”

Consultation on the heart-service changes officially ended last Friday.

But no firm date has been set out for a final decision.

All officials will say is that the conclusions are likely to be made public in the autumn.