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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