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  1. 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:

  1. 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:

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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
  1. National

Calls for Boyle to step down from surgery review post

Local MPs in Leeds have called for Sir Roger Boyle to leave his role on the children's heart surgery review:

  1. National

Leeds MP: Sir Roger Boyle's comments are 'outrageous'

Local Conservative MP for Pudsey, Horsforth & Aireborough Stuart Andrew has called comments by Sir Roger Boyle, 'outrageous' after the Department of Health's former National Director for Heart Disease said he would not allow his own daughter to be treated at Leeds General Infirmary:

Have asked for Sir Bruce Keogh to reconfirm his view that surgery in Leeds is safe. The comments by Sir Roger are totally unfair on parents and staff.

Am astounded that he [Sir Roger Boyle] continues to rely on unverified data. Outrageous.

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  1. National

'Boyle speaking without regard for patients & families'

Sharon Cheng, of Save Our Surgery (SOS), which campaigned for surgery to be resumed at Leeds, said:

Sir Roger Boyle's comments of this morning are extremely unhelpful and undermine the progress made over the last few days to begin to rebuild heart patients' families' trust and confidence in the Leeds children's heart surgery unit.

His implication that surgery should not have been resumed at Leeds contradicts everything we have heard from NHS England, the Care Quality Commission and NHS medical director, Sir Bruce Keogh, who have all stated unequivocally that the unit is safe, hence their resumption of surgery.

Sir Bruce himself went on record this week saying he would feel comfortable having his child operated on in the unit.

Let me be absolutely clear - the Leeds unit would not be operating if there were any concerns whatsoever about mortality rates or anything else.

Once again, this is an example of Sir Roger Boyle speaking out without due regard to the necessary process, the verified facts or the implications of his actions on patients and their families.

He is not an impartial party in regards to Leeds and as an adviser to the Safe and Sustainable review, we do question his motives.

Professor: standards at LGI children's heart unit 'on the edge of acceptability'

Children's heart surgery at Leeds General Infirmary has come under criticism over the past few weeks Credit: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

The man who leaked mortality figures which forced the closure of the Leeds children's heart surgery unit says he still wouldn't send his child for treatment there.

Professor Sir Roger Boyle says standards at the unit are "on the edge of acceptability" despite it reopening.

The figures, which have now been found to be incomplete, suggested the unit had twice the national average death rate.

But Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust insists its morality rates are comparable rates to all other children's heart surgery centres.

  1. National

Leeds defends heart unit: 'Surgery in Leeds is safe'

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has defended the re-opening of a children's heart unit after Sir Roger Boyle the Department of Health's former National Director for Heart Disease said he would not send his daughter to the unit.

On Monday we announced that we were reopening the children's heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary.

All partners were fully in agreement that this was the correct course of action to take and surgery has now resumed.

This was publicly reconfirmed at a meeting of councillors held in Leeds on Wednesday when the deputy medical director of NHS England reaffirmed the view that all the child heart surgery units in England, including Leeds, are safe to undertake surgery.

– Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust spokesperson

Ten children transferred up to 120 miles while surgery suspended at Leeds heart unit

Ten children had to be transferred up to 120 miles while surgery was suspended at the Leeds children's heart unit. They were transported to Birmingham, Alder Hey in Liverpool and Newcastle. Six of the ten were transferred to Leicester.

John Illingworth, chair of the Yorkshire and Humberside Joint Health Scrutiny Overview Committee in Leeds, said the 10 children affected had endured further discomfort by being moved around the country while the future of the unit was being discussed.

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