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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."

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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

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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

Staff at Leeds heart unit 'deserve a medal'

A mother from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, has said she is "absolutely thrilled" that the children's heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary is set to reopen.

Jo Lancaster, whose six year old son Toby has undergone two operations on his heart at the unit, said she has never had any doubts about its safety.

It's such a relief that it's reopened. We were never in any doubt that Leeds was safe. I just hope it has not tarnished the reputation of the unit.

The whole team are absolutely fantastic. They all deserve a medal.

I would have that surgery in Leeds tomorrow. I would have had it there last weekend if he had needed it then

I wouldn't feel safe taking him anywhere else.

– Jo Lancaster

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Families 'very worried' over Leeds heart unit suspension

Anne Keatley-Clarke, chief executive of the Children's Heart Federation, has said that families affected by the suspension of the children's heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary are "very worried".

A lot of families have not yet been contacted and there are a lot families that are very worried there about what is going to happen with their children.

We are certainly receiving calls from parents, where they are extremely worried, and indeed at the moment extremely frightened by speaking out.

They are frightened of what might happen, there have certainly been all sorts of threats and we have been advising some of those parents to share the threats with the police, that's up to them if they want to take that forward.

– Anne Keatley-Clarke, chief executive of the Children's Heart Federation

MPs react to 'great news' of Leeds heart unit

Several MPs based in the Leeds area have welcomed the news that the children's heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary is set to reopen.

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Great news that Leeds children's heart surgery is to reopen but someone has to answer for the way families have been treated. #reopenleeds

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Leeds children's heart surgery unit will reopen next week subject to swift independent audit. Very good news -above all for the parents.

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There are many unanswered questions, questions that so far NHS England have not answered. We must now have a proper investigation.

NHS 'scrabbling around' over Leeds heart unit decision

Roger Boyle, director of the National Institute for Cardiovascular Outcomes Research (NICOR), has told Radio 4's Today programme that the decision to restart the children's heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary needs to be investigated.

I find it extraordinary that the medical director of the NHS still hasn't made a proper statement, still hasn't explained his actions and the actions of NHS England and that suggests to me that they are still scrabbling around trying to justify it.

We now need an investigation so we can get to the bottom of this decision, why it was taken, and we then need to understand that.

– Roger Boyle, NICOR

'Questions need to be answered' over Leeds heart unit

Parents have reacted positively to the news that the children's heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary is set to restart.

Jon Arnold, whose daughter Zoe underwent heart surgery at the unit in 2007, said:

There's been massive support from the parents and families for the unit, and this decision confirms what we thought about the quality of care all along.

It was difficult to understand as a parent how they could have shut the ward so swiftly on the basis of unverified data. It left parents feeling very confused about what to believe and what was best for their child.

Once the unit is reopened then a lot of the families will have a lot of questions that need to be answered about the manner in which it closed.

– Jon Arnold
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