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.