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Minister rejects heart unit claim

The Government played no part in the decision to suspend children's heart surgery at Leeds General Infirmary, peers were told today.

Health minister Earl Howe said the decision was taken by the local health trust in agreement with the Care Quality Commission and NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh.

The Government strongly believes that it was the right thing to do.

It is absolutely right that the NHS should act quickly and decisively if there is any evidence that patient safety maybe at risk.

– Lord Howe

But Liberal Democrat Lord Shutt of Greetland warned there had been "murky internal health politicking" going on over the issue of children's heart surgery in Yorkshire.

Why is the Government determined to deny the people of Yorkshire a children's heart unit when Yorkshire has a population of 5.3 million - similar to Scotland, Denmark and Finland.

Yorkshire is double the size of the north east of England, where the Government is happy to see that region locally served.

– Lord Shutt of Greetland

Lord Howe said the premise of Lord Shutt's question was "incorrect", adding:

The Government has not taken a role in this matter. This is a matter which

the NHS has led. There's no agenda by the Government at all apart from our

desire to see the best possible children's cardiac services provided in this

country.

– Lord Howe

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Children's heart surgery unit row doctor resigns

Professor Sir Roger Boyle has stepped down as director of the National Institute of Clinical Outcomes Research. He has been at the centre of the row over the future of the Leeds Children's Heart Surgery Unit.

He said that he would not want his daughter to be treated at Leeds. The comments led to him being taken off the review team that is overseeing changes to children's heart surgery.

Breaking: Sir Roger Boyle will not take part in any investigations into Leeds heart unit

Greg Mulholland, MP for Leeds North West, has tweeted:

"Secretary of State announces that Sir Roger Boyle will play no further part in the Safe & Sustainable review."

Professor Sir Boyle had faced demands to step down over his claims that he would still not want his daughter to receive treatment at Leeds General Infirmary – even though it has reopened following a Government review.

Tyne Tees

Mortality rates released for children's heart surgery

Mortality rates for all children's heart surgery centres have been released following the temporary suspension of operations at the Leeds unit. It comes following concerns about death rates at Leeds which emerged after Newcastle's Freeman Hospital was chosen as the designated heart surgery centre.

The Freeman was selected over Leeds General Infirmary following the biggest consultation the NHS has ever carried out. However that decision is now on hold after campaigners in Leeds won a high court battle which upheld concerns that the rating system used during the decision process was flawed.

Now, data released by NHS England shows that none of the 10 centres in England breached thresholds for child heart surgery deaths, however Leeds General Infirmary was very close to the alert level. Operations resumed at the unit on Wednesday following a safety review.

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Mortality rates released for children's heart surgery

Mortality rates for all children's heart surgery centres have been released following the temporary suspension of operations at the region's only unit.

Data released by NHS England shows that none of the 10 centres in England breached thresholds for child heart surgery deaths, but Leeds General Infirmary was very close to the alert level. Operations resumed at the unit on Wednesday following a safety review.

Tyne Tees

Experts disagree over children's heart services

The battle over the future of children's heart services has taken a new twist, with public disagreement between leading experts.

A former Government advisor has said he would not send his own daughter for heart surgery in Leeds, but would choose Newcastle.

Following the comment, NHS England stepped in to reassure parents. The Medical Director for the North of England told ITV News Tyne Tees he would have 'no doubt' about using the Leeds unit.

Both facilities are under review as part of a nationwide shake-up.

Watch Helen Ford's report here:

Tyne Tees

Leeds heart unit campaign responds to professor's remarks

Campaigners fighting to retain children's heart surgery in Leeds, have responded angrily to comments from a medical expert.

Professor Sir Roger Boyle, who is a former Government advisor, said he wouldn't send his own daughter for heart surgery in Leeds but would choose Newcastle instead.

Operations at the Leeds unit were recently suspended but resumed this week.

The NHS Medical Director for the North of England, Mike Bewick, has stepped into the debate saying if he had children who were in this position, he would have 'no doubt' he would take them to Leeds.

Meanwhile, Leeds children's heart unit campaigner Sharon Cheng gave this response to Professor Sir Roger Boyle's remarks:

NHS England: 'immediate safety concerns' at Leeds heart op unit addressed

NHS England has released a statement saying 'immediate safety concerns' at the Leeds Children's Heart Surgery Unit have been addressed.

Following completion of the first stage of the review by an independent clinical team, into paediatric heart surgery in Leeds, NHS England has been given assurances, that the immediate safety concerns raised two weeks ago have been addressed and the unit recommenced surgery on a phased basis earlier this week.

Ends

It is the duty of NHS England first and foremost to protect patients, hence we paused surgery at the unit to allow a review of the data and other concerns raised to take place. I and NHS England cannot allow undue risks when it comes to the safety of children.

NHS England originally raised concerns about Leeds General Infirmary because of preliminary data suggesting high mortality, concerns about staffing levels, whistleblowing information from clinicians, and complaints from patients.

A second stage of the review is underway in which we now need to explore some of the wider issues around how the unit operates as a whole. I hope we will soon be able to give the unit a full clean bill of health beyond this immediate reassurance of safety.

Throughout this process our sole concern has been the safety of patients this is why we paused surgery and after assurances why we allowed surgery to re-start.”

– Mike Bewick, Deputy Medical Director of NHS England
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