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Cleft Lip and Palate

The Cleft, Lip and Palate department at Alder HeyOne in every 600 to 700 children is born with a cleft lip and/or palate. Services for these children are provided through the North West, Isle of Man and North Wales Cleft Lip and Palate Network. Across the Network, approximately 150 children each year are born with a cleft lip and/or palate and, at any given point in time, ongoing treatment is provided for around 3000 children and adults.

The Network also sees patients without a cleft but with similar speech difficulties. These referrals are often made by Speech and Language Therapists working in the community.

The aim of the Network is to provide multidisciplinary specialised management for at least the first 20 years of life to produce the best outcomes for patients in terms of optimal physical function, psychological adjustment and aesthetics.

The Network ensures that parents are provided with good antenatal and postnatal care and effective surgical treatment where a cleft lip and/or palate has been diagnosed. Surgery to repair the cleft is undertaken at two centres across the Network – Alder Hey and the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.

Surgeons are supported by a highly specialised team of Clinical Nurse Specialists, Speech and Language Therapists, Clinical Psychologists, Geneticists and Audiologists as well as clinicians from Orthodontics, ENT, Restorative and Paediatric Dentistry.

Ongoing outpatient treatment is provided as close to the patient’s home as possible and the Network provides a range of services, not just at the two surgical centres, but also at Preston, Glan Clwyd, Wrexham and Bangor Hospitals where local clinicians work closely with specialist staff from the centres.

Consultant Surgeons

  • Mr Chris Penfold
  • Mr Simon van Eeden
  • Mr Chris Sweet

Consultant Orthodontists

  • Dr Madhevi Seshu
  • Dr Susana Dominguez-Gonzalez

Contact Numbers

  • Department Secretary – 0151 252 5209
  • Speech and Language Therapy – 0151 252 5404
  • Clinical Psychology – 0151 252 5586

Your comments and experiences

  • Staff are absolutely amazing, 99% of them anyway. Visit often sadly as my child is under several departments at Alder Hey. Had a particularly long stay on Neuro ward 2 years ago and it was awful. My child has down syndrome, sensory processing disorder and ASD, along with other medical problems. We had a horrendous time as siblings of a boy in the next room were allowed to play football outside our room in the mini play area, kicking the ball repeatedly against walls etc. I asked them could they please be quiet (my daughter was having meltdowns with the noises). I was the following day verbally attacked by the boys ‘Parents’ & another lady they had on side!!! I got really upset & felt almost bullied, I told the nurses on duty for one of them to say loudly ” they aren’t doing anything wrong”. I was told by other staff to report what had happened to the ward manager, but when I did, she had already been spoken to about the subject (although not admitting to this, she was ready for me. I could tell even before I spoke that it was a waste of time by her disdainful manner towards me! ). I explained and she then just said “This is a rehab ward and siblings are quite entitled to play football inside!”. I was disgusted totally. My daughter was being monitored for sleep apnea and I decided to continue this at home. We then checked out of the hospital, much to the annoyance of other staff who told me to go to Pals. I didn’t have time to do this. I also wanted to put this out of my mind, but we are now back in Alder hey (I was having severe anxiety issues knowing we needed a stay on a ward here). Fortunately we are on Ward 3A where ALL of the staff are wonderful, respectful, and go out of their way to help in any situation!!!
    Mrs Tracy Burrows

  • My sons surgeon I Mr penfold I believe has retired. We attend glan Clwyd hospital, north wales.
    We have not had any correspondence regarding this matter or who the new cleft surgeon is.

  • After returning from Alder Hey I was overwhelmed by how amazing the hospital was. I was also overwhelmed how friendly, kind and considerate the staff are not only towards our son but to us as parents. Staff were all lovely and willing to go that extra mile for us. I was really taken by how reassring and sensitive the theatre staff were. They made the process so much easier as handing my son over was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. I really couldn’t fault the whole experience. CLAPPA nurses also followed up on how everything went and promotly arrange post op home visit. Very reassuring by everyone, nurses on ward 3A, Dr. Penfold and theatre staff, Surgical admissions and CLAPPA nurses. We felt as though we were in safe hands.

  • Our son was born with unilateral cleft lip and palate in April 2016. He has had both surgically corrected by Mr Van Eeden and his fabulous team. They are incredible in all that they do and are extremely down to Earth and approachable (very reassuring). Our experience throughout our son’s treatment has been faultless and the support from our cleft nurse Louise has been fantastic also. The new Alder Hey building is amazing and spotlessly clean; clearly designed to make both the patients and relatives as comfortable as possible. All the staff are incredible and have gone the extra mile to show that they care. We cannot believe how our baby’s face and mouth have been transformed and are thrilled with the results already despite the fact the healing will continue for another year. We are so grateful to all the people who have been involved with our son’s treatment and would like to reassure anyone who is going through similar treatment that you are in safe hands and it will be well worth it in the long run. We are privileged to have such talented professionals and such an excellent medical facility on our doorstep!

  • The team at Alder Hey are simply amazing. This is the second operation that my son has had with Mr Van Eeden and yet again he has done an incredible job. He is a very kind and caring surgeon who puts both parent and child at ease and his work is second to none. The rest of the staff at Alder Hey could not have been kinder or more helpful if they tried. The Anaesthetist spent ages talking to my little boy about dinosaurs just to make sure he was not scared and the nursing staff were lovely. the hospital was clean and my son had a private room . Thank you all so much for taking care of us so well.

  • I was operated on when a baby back in 1956 by a Dr Osborne the Liverpool alder hey children’s hospital. I will always be eternally grateful for the expertise of the Dr’s and nurses there. Also for the expertise and patience of Dr W. Burston and Dr Bush whom l loved and admired. Thank God for all Dr’s and nurses for their expertise and patience and dedication in their field.

  • Amazing surgeon with a brilliant team behind him making our children’s lives worth living. Feel in very safe hands.

  • Our Son, Joshua was born with a unilateral cleft lip. We have received constant advice and support from the Cleft Unit and the results from his surgery are amazing! We cannot thank Mr Van Eeden, Mr Penfold and our Cleft nurse, Heather enough! Your child is in very good hands!

  • My daughter was born with a cleft palate and has been treated and cared for since birth by the amazing cleft team. The staff are fantastic and she has had excellent care over the last two years which will continue as she grows up.
    Yes the hospital is old and tired- a new one is almost ready but this is unimportant especially when the care and expertise are so outstanding.

  • Horrible parents room disgusting – only putting up good teviews is not right – go to manchester it at least in this century ! No reflection on nursing staff – the nurses here are wonderful with the kids !

  • Terrible , nightmare – dirty – left without baby food at feeding times – shouted at 4 disturbing grown up kids at 7?am ( baby wakes early) yet the previous night kept up as football match on daddys like football – although these lucky daddies had a bed in ronalds mcdonald house – so shud hav jeft at visiting time . The parents room was a waiting room – in day with a disgusting shower and a kettle – id rather pitch a tent in a field – the travelling to and from hospital made it a case of using parents room – staff were great with kids !i

  • My Daughter had her surgery 14 years ago, and has just got her brace’s put on, never have we had a bad experence, all the staff are fantasic, would just like to say, a very big thank you to them all

  • My Son had his operation by Mr Van Eeden in August 2014. I can highly recommend and re assure how amazing the results and care was.

    Any parent or child that is to go through this is in safe and caring hands x

  • I visited the Alder Hey Cleft clinic last year for a second opinion.

    The staff were very friendly and willing to help.

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