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13 November 2014, 08:13
People are getting the chance later to find out more and have their say on the future of children's heart surgery in Hampshire.
The event is one of a series of briefings being held by NHS England during a new public consultation on draft standards and service specifications for congenital heart services following a national review.
The exhibition-style event, which will take place at Southampton Solent University from 2pm to 7pm today (Thursday 13 November), will include panel displays, audio-visual materials and an opportunity to talk to review team members.
It comes two years after plans to close the Southampton centre were scrapped.
The paediatric cardiac service at Southampton Children's Hospital, which works in partnership with Oxford in a clinical network, is one of ten specialist surgical centres in the country and cares for more than 10,000 patients from across the South of England and further afield.
The NHS England consultation forms part of a long-running review that initially recommended the creation of fewer, larger centres but, following its conclusion in 2012, no changes were implemented as the plans were suspended in Parliament in favour of a further assessment.
During the original review process, an expert panel led by Professor Sir Ian Kennedy rated Southampton as the second-highest performing children's heart surgery centre in England.
More recently, the latest National Congenital Heart Disease Audit Report, which analysed survival rates at all children's heart surgery centres in the UK from 2010 to 2013, showed children in Southampton have a better chance of survival following surgery.
Of the ten centres in England - and four additional units in Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and a private hospital - Southampton was the seventh-largest by number of operations with 914 and had the best survival rate at 98.5%.
Mr Nicola Viola, a consultant congenital cardiac surgeon, said: "We remain extremely grateful for the support given to our clinicians, department and patients by so many people during the initial NHS review and consultation.
"The service has continued to grow and develop since then and, as we can see from the latest surgical outcome data, it stands firmly among the best performing centres in the country and across the UK and Republic of Ireland.
"But the process is still not complete and the future remains unclear, so we would encourage as many people as possible with an interest in our service to show their support and attend the event or submit responses through the hospital or NHS England websites."