NHS England has unveiled new plans to for tightening up implementation of standards for congenital heart disease (CHD) services across the country, to ensure that patients receive “the best possible care”.

For one, any hospital not fulfilling the standards, which were agreed back in 2015, will either need to demonstrate that they have an improvement programme in place and meet strict milestones, or stop providing treatment altogether.

NHS England noted that in future all children with heart disease will receive inpatient care in a place where all the specialists and services they need are on-site, eradicating the need to travel to another hospital.

Also, every operation or interventional procedure for congenital heart disease patients will be carried out by specialist doctors “whose volume of practice is sufficient to develop and maintain their skills, working in centres that are more resilient, with bigger teams, and providing full 24 hour seven day specialist care.”

To further support compliance of these standards, NHS England said it is commissioning Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to provide level 1 adult CHD services in the North West, with Manchester University Hospitals NHS FT providing the full range of level 2 adult CHD services as an integral part of a North-West CHD Network.

University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust will continue to provide level 1 CHD services, conditional on achieving full compliance with the standards in line with their own plan to do so and demonstrating convincing progress along the way, while the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS FT’s ambitious new outline proposal for achieving full compliance with the standards and continuing to commission level 1 services from them in the meantime also has NHS England backing.

Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS FT will be commissioned to provide level 1 CHD services until at least March 2021, while future commissioning of both its advanced heart failure and transplant service and its level 1 CHD service will be considered.

On the flip side, Level 2 CHD services, including cardiology interventions in adults with CHD, will cease to be commissioned from Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS FT, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, and University Hospital of South Manchester NHS FT, it was revealed.

“Progress made towards meeting the standards so far is encouraging…However, we have been clear that there is further work to do and where necessary, action must be taken to achieve this within the specified timescales,” said Professor Huon Gray, national clinical director for heart disease, NHS England.