BUSINESS QUESTION – CHILDREN'S HEART UNIT IN SOUTHAMPTON – 28 April 2011

Dr Julian Lewis: Given that the number of children's heart surgery units will be reduced from 11 to six or seven, and that an NHS consultation document places Southampton in the top two of those 11 for quality ratings, can we have a statement from a Conservative Minister – an appropriate Minister – about why only one of four options being put forward includes the continuation of Southampton's children's surgery unit for heart problems? We would not want – would we? – a competition in which the people who won were actually declared the losers, in this field any more than in the general election.

[The Leader of the House of Commons (Sir George Young): Like my hon. Friend, I have a constituency interest in Southampton General Hospital and I have received a number of letters about the review of children's heart surgery. Clinical experts consider that one of the core standards for improving care is to undertake a minimum of 400 child heart operations per year and an optimum of 500, and there is uncertainty about whether the Southampton centre can meet that key criterion. The review team is taking evidence about whether Southampton can achieve that in collaboration with the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford, and at this stage it would not be appropriate for me to comment on the merits of individual centres.]