A short documentary exploring what it’s like to live with Congenital Heart Disease, and highlighting the brilliant work at Glenfield Children’s Heart Centre, has just been released.
The documentary comes at a critical stage in the campaign to stop the closure of Glenfield Children’s Heart Centre, with the end of the consultation just weeks away.
Ellie Kemp, the documentary maker, is a former patient at Glenfield Heart Unit. Asked why she made the documentary, Ellie said:
“I wanted to raise awareness – CHD is such a common birth defect, yet it’s so unheard of, and it affects so many lives.”
But NHS England’s controversial proposals to close the heart centre at Glenfield Hospital are also a part of the reason for Ellie making the documentary
Speaking about her personal experiences with the heart unit, Ellie said:
“If Glenfield had been closed when I had my open-heart surgery at 10 years old, then it definitely would’ve put a lot more pressure on my family – it’s scary enough having a child go through major heart surgery, let alone having to travel from Nottingham to Birmingham, or Nottingham to Manchester, when Glenfield is only a half an hour drive.
“Financially, having a child in hospital is extremely difficult, so adding in the extra travel, and potentially accommodation expenses, would be incredibly straining for families. However, this could be a reality for future heart patients if Glenfield was closed – which seems so unnecessary and so unfair, especially since Glenfield has such an amazing Heart Unit, which has helped to save so many lives.”
One of the recurrent themes of the documentary is the close relationships between staff and patients at Glenfield. Dr Mike Harris, a specialist in foetal diagnosis, described the unit as “like a family.”
Unsurprisingly, this is high on Ellie’s priorities.
“It’s also the Glenfield team themselves. Having been seen at Glenfield all my life, I’ve built up a strong relationship and a trust with the staff. Should I have to have any further surgeries at a later date, without Glenfield, I’d have to go to a new hospital, with a team who would be unfamiliar.”
The documentary is also highly critical of NHS England’s claim that Glenfield is not meeting the “standards”. Aidan Boulger, a consultant cardiologist at Glenfield and a stalwart of the campaign, was interviewed:
“NHS England have suggested that one measure of quality is the number of operations that we do. They seem to be confusing quality with the number of operations. The two things are completely different.”
Ellie echoed this sentiment:
“As for Glenfield not performing surgeries to a ‘high enough standard’ again – I was treated there, and I received an incredibly high standard of care, before, during and after my major open-heart surgery. I recovered well, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
The East Midlands only has one heart unit. We must make it clear to NHS England that no-one is going to take it away from us without a fight!
The Save Glenfield campaign is holding a public rally in Leicester City Centre on Saturday, 8 July, from 1pm: https://goo.gl/Z9ojJx And if you are interested in holding a public viewing of the film, please get in touch.
Ellie also asked that we post the following message of thanks:
“When researching for my documentary, Save Our Heart Unit Glenfield kindly shared a message on Facebook, asking for anyone who was willing to share their experiences with CHD and Glenfield Hospital. I received an overwhelming amount of responses – phone calls, e-mails, messages, all from people who wanted to share their stories, speaking highly of the care they received at Glenfield. I’d like to say thank you to all of those who shared their stories with me – I believe that this is testament to how many lives Glenfield has changed, and shows just how important Glenfield is.”