Second lifeline for heart unit

23 july 2012.'A rally in Millennium Square and march through Leeds City Centre was held yesterday (monday) in support of the Leeds General Infirmary Children's Heart Unit.'The marchers make their way down The Headrow.
23 july 2012.'A rally in Millennium Square and march through Leeds City Centre was held yesterday (monday) in support of the Leeds General Infirmary Children's Heart Unit.'The marchers make their way down The Headrow.

CAMPAIGERS are celebrating after the decision to close the children’s heart surgery unit in Leeds was deferred for a second review.

The decision taken earlier this month was made following a national review of children’s heart surgery delivery meaning patients across the region would be forced to travel to Newcastle, Birmingham or Liverpool for treatment.

Hundreds of people turned out for a demonstration in Millennium Square in Leeds on Monday including Rastrick mum Mary Dennison.

Now the unit could be saved after the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee watchdog ruled the decision should be looked at again.

Mary said parents, health officials and councillors were able to ask questions to Sir Neil McKay CB, chairman of the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts. “He didn’t say how the point system was worked out and he couldn’t explain how Newcastle was going to reach its target operations. Because if Newcastle doesn’t reach its target of 400 then that will close and we will have to travel even further. Leeds was already doing 350 operations with three surgeons so with four it would easily have reached this. But this is all because Leeds doesn’t do transplants.

“We are pleased with the meeting and the outcome but we don’t feel he fully answered any of our questions. The final decision will now be made by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley who needs to think hard and fast. People need to contact him to show the strength of feeling. Everything is under one roof in Leeds and we are the biggest county in this country it will be scandalous to lose this.”

Sir Neil said the decision was taken following a three year comprehensive review. “The Safe and Sustainable review, the largest public consultation in the history of the NHS, has already been subject to significant scrutiny. Notwithstanding the fact that three Appeal Court judges found our process to be lawful and proper, we will prepare for this latest challenge with rigour.

“Should the IRP be asked to undertake an initial assessment, I look forward to working with them to provide all the information they need and to explain the different factors we considered before reaching our decision.”