THE Bolton News is backing the Royal Bolton Hospital’s bid to become one of five specialist “super” centres in Greater Manchester. As part of our Best of Health for Bolton campaign, we will be looking at other specialist centres in the UK with similar structures already in place.

A LEADING cardiologist from the hospital which nursed Fabrice Muamba back to health following his near death cardiac arrest, says specialist centres are a must for a “robust NHS”.

Dr Charles Knight is at the helm of cardiovascular services at the London Chest Hospital where Muamba was taken after collapsing on the pitch at White Hard Lane in 2012.

Ambulance crews drove passed three hospitals nearer to the Spurs’ ground, taking the footballer straight to the specialist heart centre where he made a miraculous recovery.

Dr Knight is group director for the trust which runs London Chest and three other hospitals in the capital, which are already in the process of centralising their cardiac services, much like the plans put forward by Healthier Together in Greater Manchester.

Dr Knight says specialist centres are essential if patients are to have access to the best teams of consultants, doctors and nurses like those which treated Muamba.

He said: “In order to get a real critical mass of experience, you need bigger teams. Those teams need to be available 24/7 so they can offer a higher level of care.

"The only way we can do that is if the centres are bigger and have all the up-to-date equipment.

“But all this has to be combined with good integrated care. People should only come to the hospital for the critical care. Their follow-up treatment should be closer to home, either in their local hospital or with their GP.”

The reason why all hospitals cannot be specialist centres is down to cash and workforce, according to NHS chiefs.

Bolton NHS Foundation Trust is vying to become a “super hospital” in one of the biggest shake-ups the NHS has seen.

Either Oldham, Salford or Manchester Royal Infirmary has already been earmarked to be a “super hospital”.

A 12-week consultation has opened to decide whether one or two more “super hospitals” are created, and where they will be.

The options are Bolton, Wythenshawe, the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary in Wigan and Stepping Hill in Stockport.

If four hospitals are chosen, less money will be spent up front and Bolton will be in a straight fight with its three rivals. If the option of five specialist centres is pursued, Bolton will compete with Wigan for the status.

To complete the consultation questionnaire, visit