Children with heart defects enjoyed a day out at a Teddy Bears’ Picnic in the grounds of Leicester’s Glenfield Hospital yesterday. It was organised by Heart Link which is campaigning to prevent the children’s heart unit from closing.
The 35th annual Teddy Bear’s Picnic was an afternoon filled with fun and delight, as children enjoyed the fair and other amusements, but the day was still overshadowed by the threat of the unit’s closure, which will force all of its local patients and their families to travel to other cities to access treatment.
More than 20,000 people have signed an online petition against the plans, and a formal meeting between hospital bosses and NHS England is planned for this week.
The aim is to get to 100,000 signatures which could lead to a Parliamentary debate on the closure.
Since 1981, Heart Link has helped raise and donate over £5 Million for the children’s heart unit at Glenfield, and with its latest and continuous efforts over the weekend to prevent closures, the charity have also been campaigning in the city centre, to help gain more signatures from the public in Leicester.
Gill Smart, Treasurer for Heart Link expressed her opinion on the possibility of the heart unit closure, she said: “It’s very important for the East Midlands and the outline districts because it will ricochet and cause a lot of problems for children, and for ECMO, because we’re the only ECMO centre that does retrievals, we go out and fetch the child in, and no other centres, although they do ECMO don’t retrieve. It’s so vital, and my worry is that children are going to die.”
A mother of a five year old son who has a heart condition said: “He’s been in Glenfield all of his life, with his heart condition he’s had to have five open heart surgeries, plus he has a pace maker and a mechanical valve, but this is the area we need to go because it’s local for us. He took a turn for the worse over Christmas and had a cardiac arrest and if we didn’t get here in time and it had shut, he wouldn’t be here now, they saved his life.”
The online petition can be found at: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/160455