A key NHS adviser says concerns that two "relatively junior surgeons" were in charge of children's congenital heart surgery at Leeds General Infirmary, prompted the decision to suspend operations there.
The hospital, which is at the centre of a row over the future of its children's heart services, is carrying out an internal review after data suggested a death rate twice the national average.
Professor Sir Roger Boyle, director of the National Institute of Clinical Outcomes Research (Nicor) which overseas mortality rates across the NHS, said the figures were among a number of reasons he advised the unit should be suspended. He told BBC Breakfast:
"I was also aware a senior surgeon was away on holiday, another surgeon was suspended and that left the service being offered to the public by two relatively junior, local surgeons. To have two relatively inexperienced people holding fort, without the ability for any senior advice, is a precarious situation in my view. It's a question of experience and fine balance between being able to offer a safe service and one that is precarious."
NHS England and the Care Quality Commission have confirmed that Children’s Heart Surgery Services at Leeds General Infirmary are safe.
Children's heart surgery is set to resume at Leeds General Infirmary after days of uncertainty over its future.
The Children's Heart Federation says the interests of management at the LGI have been "put ahead of critically ill children".