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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:

Decision to suspend heart surgery 'smacks of arrogance'

The Liberal Democrat MP for Leeds North West has called for resignations over the decision to suspend children's heart surgery at Leeds General Infirmary.

Greg Mulholland said the chair of the Joint Primary Care Trust and, Sir Neil McKay, and the NHS medical director, Sir Bruce Keogh, should quit.

In a statement on his website he said:

This smacks of the extraordinary arrogance displayed throughout this process ...

To have arrived in Leeds and done this, without warning, just one day after the decision to close the Leeds unit was proved in a court of law to have been unlawful beggars belief; to do it the day before a double bank holiday weekend when parliament is in recess is both revealing and scandalous.

Many people believe that this is just a cynical attempt to circumvent the clear ruling of the court and the concern is for the children lined up for surgery and the distress this will cause them and their families.

– Greg Mulholland, mp for leeds north west