About Us

Northwest, North Wales and the Isle of Man Congenital Heart Network

We are a network that covers the Northwest, North Wales and the Isle of Man. Hospitals within this region that provide care for those with congenital heart disease come under our network umbrella. The network is also part of a national group of congenital heart networks that work together to provide the best care.

Networks are part of a new model of care set out in the new Congenital heart Disease Review (2015). Additional information around the new review can also be found HERE

The national review determined that across the country services should be organised according to a three tier model, with clear roles and responsibilities for each tier. Networks will help local services to work closely with specialist centres, to ensure that patients receive the care they need in a setting with the right skills and facilities, as close to home as possible. With specialist and local cardiology centres meeting national standards, more care can be safely given locally. The three tiers are:

Specialist Cardiac Surgical Centres (level 1): Each network will have at least one Specialist Surgical Centre. All cardiac surgery and most cardiological interventions will be undertaken at these level 1 centres. These centres will provide the most highly specialised diagnostics and care.

Specialist Cardiology Centres (level 2): Not all networks will necessarily include level 2 paediaric cardiac centres, but because of the increasing number of adults living with CHD, Specialist Adult CHD (ACHD) Centres are expected be more common. The need for level 2 centres will be determined by each network taking account of local circumstances, including the opportunity to improve local access, the need for additional capacity, and the availability of appropriately skilled staff.

Local Cardiology Centres (level 3): Local children’s cardiology centres mainly sited in (District General Hospitals) will employ a paediatrician with expertise in cardiology (PEC) to provide ongoing monitoring and care. They will run outpatient clinics alongside specialists from the Specialist Surgical Centre. This will mean that more care can be given locally, so children and their families will have less need to travel long distances for their ongoing monitoring and care.

The “Hospitals in the Network” section lists all the hospitals under the tier levels and have links to the individual hospital websites.

Networked working is at the heart of the model of care for congenital heart disease agreed by the NHS England Board. Many standards describe how networks should function and their responsibilities, and the service specifications for paediatric cardiac and adult congenital heart disease services states that ‘the model of care … is based on an overarching principle of a Congenital Heart Network. [with] policies and guidelines agreed across the network relating to patient management pathways…’

Benefits of Networks

All hospitals providing CHD care must work as part of regional, multi-centre networks, bringing together fetal, children’s and adult services.

Networks can more effectively drive improvement through enhanced training and mentorship, sharing learning and skills, quality assurance and audit.

To optimise patient management a shared network MDT will be established.

Isolated and occasional practice will be eliminated.

Networks have the opportunity to develop innovative approaches to meeting the standards in ways that individual centres might not be able to achieve working alone.

Networks will need to establish systems to ensure that referrals to and between centres are managed in such a way as to ensure that the flow of patients appropriately matches the capacity of each institution.

The standards also require active management of time from MDT decision to treatment, and monitoring and management of short notice cancellations. This is essential to achieving the standards, and to manage timely patient access to surgery and interventional cardiology.

Scope of the Northwest North Wales & the Isle of Man Congenital Heart Network

Alder Hey Childrens Hospital and Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital  (Both level 1 centres) are  at the heart of a hub and spoke Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) network which includes all level 2 centres (Manchester Children’s and Manchester Royal Infirmary), level 3 services (see Hospitals in Network section) and all other referring hospitals within their catchment.

The North West, North Wales and the Isle of Man Congenital Heart Disease Network covers the whole lifetime pathway of care including prenatal diagnosis, maternity, obstetric and neonatal services, children’s services, transition, adult congenital cardiac services and palliative care.

This means that there is a single network for both children and adults.

Network Aims:

  • To deliver excellent care and treatment for patients with congenital heart disease, along the whole patient pathway, improving outcomes, quality of care and patient and family experience;
  • To ensure that nationally set specifications and standards of service are consistently met across the network;
  • To develop and ensure the operation of common referral, care and transfer pathways and other policies, protocols, and procedures across the network;
  • To ensure that as much care and treatment is provided as close as possible to home and that the patient and their family travel only when essential, while ensuring timely access for interventional surgical procedures and the best possible outcome for the patient.
  • To ensure that there is an integrated, coordinated, multidisciplinary approach to the care of patients with congenital heart disease.
  • To ensure the safe and effective transition of young people from paediatrics to adult services.
  • To identify the need for level 3 services (paediatric and adult) and to support their operation and development.
  • To establish and maintain systems for the collection, analysis and reporting of data on outcomes, quality of care and patient and family experience.
  • To undertake audit, and other service improvement activities including reflecting on and responding to suboptimal outcomes, care and patient experience;
  • To ensure efficient and appropriate flow of patients along the pathway, managing system capacity and improving system resilience.
  • To support effective workforce planning across the network, including training and the professional development of all clinical staff involved in the care of patients with congenital heart disease.

Anyone with congenital heart disease in the Northwest, North Wales and the Isle of Man will receive the right care at the right time at the right place by the right person.

COVID-19 Advice for North West CHD Network: Advice for patients and families affected by congenital heart disease and children with other heart conditions pleaseclick here