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Mortality rates released for children's heart surgery

Mortality rates for all children's heart surgery centres have been released following the temporary suspension of operations at the Leeds unit. It comes following concerns about death rates at Leeds which emerged after Newcastle's Freeman Hospital was chosen as the designated heart surgery centre.

The Freeman was selected over Leeds General Infirmary following the biggest consultation the NHS has ever carried out. However that decision is now on hold after campaigners in Leeds won a high court battle which upheld concerns that the rating system used during the decision process was flawed.

Now, data released by NHS England shows that none of the 10 centres in England breached thresholds for child heart surgery deaths, however Leeds General Infirmary was very close to the alert level. Operations resumed at the unit on Wednesday following a safety review.

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NHS England: we 'should be applauded for making a swift decision' over heart surgery unit

Deputy Medical Director for NHS England, Dr Mike Bewick, has told a health scrutiny committee, "to not do things is very easy. We are always criticised for not taking action and we thought there were potential dangers. NHS England should be applauded for making a swift decision."

He added that a rapid review of the unit over the weekend found it to be safe. He said cardiologists and staff are dedicated and are doing what they believe in.

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Health scrutiny committee meets to discuss Leeds heart surgery unit

Meeting attended by Dr Mike Bewick from NHS England, deputy medical director

Dr Mike Bewick, the deputy medical director of NHS England, has attended a meeting with the Yorkshire and the Humber health scrutiny committee to discuss the events surrounding the suspension of surgery at the Leeds children's heart surgery unit.

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Children's heart surgery resumes in Leeds

There will be a phased restart to surgery Credit: Press Association

Almost two weeks after surgery was suspended at the region's only children's heart unit over concerns about death rates, services will resume today. The region's health scrutiny committee is also meeting this morning and has invited key players in that decision-making process.

NHS England said there will be a phased restart to surgery at Leeds General Infirmary

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Leeds surgery campaigners demand investigation into suspension

The campaign group Save our Surgery, which wants to keep children's heart surgery going at Leeds General Infirmary, is demanding an investigation into the suspension of operations at the unit.

“Given that the suspension potentially put patients at risk, has caused huge inconvenience and added stress to the families of children who have had to be treated elsewhere, and created unnecessary worries and fears amongst previous patients’ families, questions must be asked as to why operations were suspended in the first place.

“We fear it’s no coincidence that the action was taken on the day following the High Court verdict quashing the decision that Leeds should stop surgery, as part of the Safe and Sustainable review.”

“Most irresponsible of all was the use of mortality data that had not been verified. Its use by Professor Sir Roger Boyle was roundly attacked by the body compiling it and also by the British Congenital Cardiac Association. Following proper examination and verification by CCAD and Nicor, the pediatric cardiac surgery mortality figures have been certified as being within the normal accepted range.

“We hope those who made this decision will now be held to account. This whole exercise has been NHS politics at its worst. We call on the Secretary of State to launch an urgent inquiry into these events and what led them to happen. We also want him to make a decision following the Independent Reconfiguration Panel report which will genuinely put the interests of patients first. In our view, this means keeping both the Leeds and the Newcastle units open.”

– Sharon Cheng, Save Our Surgery
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