A PETITION to save the heart unit at Leeds has been presented to No.10 Downing Street.
The on-line and paper petitions are part of the ‘S.O.S Save Our Surgery’ campaign run the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, the charity which supports the Leeds General Infirmary-based unit.
The campaign aims to stop a review of children’s heart surgery services in England leading to the closure of the Yorkshire unit, which could force families to take their children to centres in Newcastle or Liverpool for surgery.
Calder Valley’s MP Craig Whittaker joined several other Yorkshire MPs and the charity at presenting a petition with over 500,000 signatures - the largest ever recorded in the Yorkshire, the Humber and North Derbyshire region and one of the largest to be presented to Downing Street.
“The case for Leeds to be included in more of the options is overwhelming and the presenting of this huge petition highlights the strength of feeling within Yorkshire for Leeds to stay open,” said Mr Whittaker. “While we acknowledged that this is not a government decision but one taken by the profession themselves, it is vital that we highlight the strength of feeling to the Prime Minister and his ministers.
“As a group of MPs, we will also be debating this review in the House of Commons with the potential of sending a clear message to those taking this decision that we want Leeds included in further options.
“We have constituents who have used this service and to relocate it to Newcastle from a highly populated area like Yorkshire is just shear madness. It is vital to the convalescence of these young children and families that they are able to travel to be together and support each other at very stressful times. A relocation further afield will without question hinder that process.”
Rastrick mum, Mary Dennison, is one of several parents campaigning to keep open the unit which saved her son, Jack’s, life. “People don’t realise that if they close this unit then the adult unit will go too and a place and size of Leeds it is ridiculous to shut it.
“I really do believe strongly that no one should have to travel 120 miles for a hospital.”
Sharon Cheng, Charity Director of CHSF, said: “We have been overwhelmed by the support from the people of Yorkshire and hope that this petition has got the message across to the Government that the Leeds unit simply cannot be allowed to close.”
The consultation period ended last Friday.