Ex-heart tsar's Leeds safety fear

The government's former heart tsar has said he would not send his own daughter for treatment at Leeds General Infirmary's child cardiac unit. Low-risk operations have resumed there after surgery was suspended over concerns about the death rates.

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Ex-heart tsar to play no further part in Leeds heart debate

The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Sir Roger Boyle would play no further part in a review of where children's heart surgery should in future be carried out.

The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Credit: Suzanne Plunkett/PA Wire

The government's former heart tsar sparked controversy last week when he told the BBC he would not send his daughter for treatment at Leeds General Infirmary's child heart surgery unit.

Mr Hunt said that while Sir Roger was still one of the leading heart surgeons his role in the Safe and Sustainable process aimed at centralising children's heart surgery into specialist centres would end.

He said: "He did the right thing in informing Sir Bruce (Keogh, NHS England Medical Director) about his concerns over Leeds mortality data.

"However it is the view of Sir Bruce, with which I fully concur, his comments to the media on April 11 could be seen as pre-judging any future conclusions made by that review and so it is right he plays no further role in its deliberations."

NHS director: No 'safety problem' at heart centres

There are no indications of a "safety problem" at children's heart surgery centres, NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh said today, following the temporary suspension of operations in Leeds and the publication of mortality rates at the centres. Sir Keogh said:

These findings do not indicate a 'safety' problem in any centre.

However, centres with three-year outcomes approaching the alert threshold may deserve additional scrutiny and monitoring of current performance.

By definition, around half of all units will have more deaths than 'expected'. It is therefore inappropriate to label centres as 'blameworthy' for these deaths, as the analysis does not show a significantly increased mortality rate.

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Child heart operations death rates released

Mortality rates for all children's heart surgery centres in England have been released following the temporary suspension of operations in Leeds.

Data released by NHS England shows that none of the country's 10 centres breached thresholds for child heart surgery deaths, but Leeds General Infirmary came "very close" to the "alert" threshold.

Two other centres, Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool, and Evelina Children's Hospital, part of Guy's & St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust also came close to the limit, according to the figures, covering the years 2009 to 2012.

Read: Ex-heart tsar's Leeds safety fear

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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.

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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

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:

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Bruce Keogh calls on Roger Boyle to step down from his role on the children's heart surgery review. Health Secretary must now respond.

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It is now clear that #SirRogerBoyle is carrying out a cynical vendetta, he must be relieved from all NHS roles immediately, clear misconduct

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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'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.

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

Former heart tsar would not send daughter to Leeds

The government's former heart tsar says he would not send his own daughter for treatment at Leeds General Infirmary's child heart surgery unit.

Speaking to the BBC, Sir Roger Boyle - the Department of Health's former National Director for Heart Disease - said "I would go somewhere else. I would go to Newcastle."

Low-risk operations resumed at Leeds General Infirmary on Wednesday. Credit: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

Operations resumed at the Leeds unit this week after they were suspended when NHS figures suggested it had a death rate double that of other centres.

The hospital has provides assurance about its standards of care.

But Sir Roger said it remains "just on the edge of what we call an alert".

"In other words, showing that they were at right on the edge of acceptability."

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