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East Midlands Congenital Heart Service moves to a new and improved facility at Leicester Royal Infirmary

11 August 2021

The internationally-renowned children’s heart service has moved from its Glenfield home, where it has been since 1993 to a new £14.5 million purpose-built facility in the Kensington Building, at Leicester Royal Infirmary.

EMCHC Move August 2021
EMCHC Move August 2021

The new space will comprise a new cardiac ward, outpatient and diagnostic department, cardiac paediatric intensive care unit (PICU), cardiac theatre, catheter lab, as well as parents’ accommodation, allowing families to receive the best possible care in the region.

The move, part-funded by the Trust and made possible thanks to donations to Leicester Hospitals Charity from the community, patients and their family and friends, will see the service co-located with other children’s services at Leicester’s Hospitals. In doing so, it will ensure the trust meets the strict standards, set by NHS England, for surgical congenital heart services. The move is part of Leicester’s Hospitals wider vision to realise the first single-site children’s hospital in the East Midlands.

The East Midlands Congenital Heart Centre team, who will move with the service, are amongst the very best in the world when it comes to the treatment of congenital heart disease (CHD). 

CHD is one of the major categories of illness that, if treated, can restore health and improve quality of life. Currently around 9 in 1,000 babies born in England will suffer from some form of congenital heart disease, making it one of the most common birth defects for a baby in England to be born with. 

Andrew Furlong, Medical Director at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, said: “Making improvements to our children’s services has remained a priority for the Trust despite the many challenges of the last two years. So, to finally be in a position to announce the opening of the new EMCHC facility at Leicester Royal Infirmary after securing the investment is fantastic; even more so knowing we can now call this a permanent home for this fantastic regional service.”

5-year-old Patrick Gillespie from Leicester has been a patient of EMCHC since 2016, following a referral to the service when he was born nine-weeks early at 2 lb 13oz.

Clinicians discovered that Patrick had several complex heart conditions, including a large hole in his heart. He needed his first operation at just three months old and has gone on to have three more. It is expected that Patrick will continue to receive lifelong care at the EMCHC.

Patrick’s mum, Leah MacDonald, said: “We are so thankful for the EMCHC and everything they have done for us - it is such a wonderful service that does so much good for the people within Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, and those from further afield.

“We are so excited to see the new facilities, which we believe will help make our time with the service so much more comfortable – we have been told so much about it, and it sounds fantastic.”

Dr Aidan Bolger, Head of Service for East Midlands Congenital Heart Centre, said: "Our service is the only one of its kind in the East Midlands, and so it was critical that through our collective energy we ensured that it was the best it could be. We’ve now transformed the service in the way we said we would when we prevented its closure in 2017, something only made possible with the passionate support of our patients, their families and the public. 

“The move to Leicester Royal Infirmary enables us to reach for that next level of excellence in care, improving the experience for patients and their families when they need us most. We are all incredibly proud to have delivered a new space where a child can walk through the door knowing they are being treated in a place just for them.

“Great attracts great, and so with state-of-the-art technology, new opportunities for learning and development for staff and working environments fit for the 21st century, we have a real prospect of not only continuing to improve our service but also of attracting the best nursing, and medical talent from across the country. That will be a fantastic legacy for the people of the East Midlands and beyond.

“In recognising this wonderful achievement, a special thank you must go to the Leicester Hospitals Charity and all the other charitable organisations and donors who so generously supported this project. It has truly been a team effort.”

Stephen Woolfe, Chair of Leicester Children’s Appeal, said: “This is a moment of true celebration that everyone should feel very proud of. The millions of pounds in donations we have received  show how much the people of Leicester, Leicestershire, Rutland and the wider East Midlands care about giving all of our children the new hospital they deserve. 

“We are deeply grateful to all of the families, businesses and community groups who have contributed towards helping us get to this tremendous fundraising target. 

“The new unit, which is the start of Leicester having a stand-alone children’s hospital, sets the standard for an exciting future for children’s services, which will benefit many children for years to come.”

For more information or interview requests please contact:

Amy Orton, Communications manager

07855 173 566 | amy.orton@uhl-tr.nhs.uk