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  1. ITV Report

Leeds Children's Heart Surgery Unit will close as part of plans to 'streamline' services across the country.

Operations like this will not happen in future Photo: Calendar

Children and babies, from across Yorkshire and Humber, who need life-saving heart surgery may now have to travel long distances to get the operations they need.

Members of the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts approved plans to end surgery in Leeds, despite a long campaign by parents and their children who rely on the care.

The proposals were first announced in 2010 after the NHS launched the “Safe and Sustainable” review. It came after a landmark inquiry into the Children’s Heart Surgery Unit at Bristol Royal infirmary between 1990 and 1995, where up to 35 babies and children died as a result of poor care.

Since I've had a pacemaker fitted in Leeds I can do anything. It's awful [it is closing] all the patients have a close relationship with staff. When you arrive every nurse says "Hi" - it is really good.

– Joe Barry, 15 - Patient
Ward 10: Leeds Children's Heart Unit Credit: Calendar

The report concluded that national services would be improved if three out of the 11 centres across England and Wales were to close. One of the options was to close the Leeds unit and transfer patients to centres in Liverpool or Newcastle. Officials said this would mean better quality units in fewer places across the country. They said the current situation means the expertise is spread too thinly.

We think the right place to have this service for the people of Yorkshire and the Humber is Leeds. And we want to work to support the patients who want that as well.

– Mike Blackburn - Paediatric Cardiologist

Campaigners who have fought hard against the proposals say they are 'devastated' by the decision, as it means specialist surgery will no longer be available anywhere in the Yorkshire and Humber region.

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