Archbishop urges Hunt to intervene over heart unit

The Archbishop of York visited Leeds General Infirmary earlier today.
The Archbishop of York visited Leeds General Infirmary earlier today. Photo: ITV News

The Archbishop of York has spoken out against the controversial decision to suspend a children's congenital heart surgery unit in Leeds.

Dr John Sentamu - who previously gave his backing to campaigners battling to keep the unit open - has called on Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to intervene.

The Archbishop said during a visit to Leeds General Infirmary, "If the data and the research has not been properly analysed, I would have thought you would have paused, come to the actual clinic and see what is going on ... before you take sides".

ITV News Reporter Ellie Price reports:

It comes as a senior doctor claimed the decision to suspend the surgery was based solely on mortality figures which were "simply wrong".

Sir Bruce Keogh, the medical director of NHS England, said yesterday that the figures were among a "constellation of reasons" to suspend operations, as well "disturbing" calls he received from two whistle-blowers.

But Dr Elspeth Brown, consultant cardiologist at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said the hospital was told on Thursday that the decision to suspend surgery was based solely on the mortality data.

Dr Brown claimed the results were "incomplete" - with more than a third of cases missing - and called for children's heart surgery to resume at Leeds General Infirmary.

"We need to put this to bed, we need people to stop attacking us, and we need to resume surgery as soon as possible," she added.