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Fight over heart surgery unit back in Westminster

The fight over the future of children's heart surgery in our region has been back in Westminster today where MPs called on the Government to keep services in Leeds. Surgery at the region's only specialist unit is due to end under plans to create fewer, more speciaist centres.

That decision is being reviewed. But the body that made it, says it will mount "a robust defence" of its decision.

It is regrettable that a campaign group in Leeds has begun proceedings for a judicial review. We will mount a robust defence of our landmark decision. We will also work closely with the Independent Reconfiguration Panel over the coming months to assist the panel’s review in whatever way possible. Our concerns around delaying the implementation process have been noted by many and planning for implementation will continue with the professional associations.”

– Sir Neil McKay CB, Chair of the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts,

Heart unit to be debated in Parliament

The future of the Leeds Children's Heart Surgery unit will be debated in Parliament later.

The issue is being raised by Pudsey MP Stuart Andrew. The decision was taken earlier this year to end surgery in Leeds, forcing patients in the region to travel to Newcastle or Liverpool for treatment.

Last week, due to a request from councillors in Lincolnshire concerned about the closure of the Leicester unit, the Health Secretary ordered a review into the decision. The move has been welcomed by campaigners.


Heart surgery campaigners fight on

Campaigners fighting to keep children's heart surgery in Leeds say they're pleased the Health Secretary has ordered a review into the controversial decision to end it.

Jeremy Hunt has asked an independent panel to look into the decision - which would mean parents travelling to Liverpool and Newcastle for treatment, instead of Leeds Gerneral Infirmary.

More than 600 thousand people have signed a petition, under the banner Save Our Surgery. The review panel is expected to report back by next February. We have spoken to Sharon Cheng from Save our Surgery.

Save Our Surgery welcomes review decision

Save Our Surgery says it welcomes the decision by Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, to halt the planned closure of children’s heart surgery units, including the Leeds unit, pending review by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP).

However, it is also calling for the Health Secretary to ensure that the independent review looks into the original process and scoring system used with sufficient scrutiny rather than simply repeating the original assessment process, which raised significant concerns.

The IRP review, announced by the Health Secretary in Parliament yesterday, has been sparked by outcry around the decision from MPs, local government and members of the public across the country, and comes following formal complaints from local authorities in Leicester and Lincolnshire.

While we are delighted that the Government has finally listened to the concerns of patients, MPs and local councillors and stepped in to halt the planned closures, our fear is that the IRP will simply repeat the same flawed process as originally used.

Instead, we would sincerely ask that the Panel take a thorough and deep look at the decision-making approach and scoring behind it, as well as asking questions about why more data has not been provided by the JCPCT to allow other concerned scrutiny teams to lodge their own appeals.

We are confident that if the IRP thoroughly investigates the way the original review was approached, how hospitals were scored, and how that scoring was used, it will understand why this process has sparked such widespread concern.”

– Sharon Cheng, Save Our Surgery

MP welcomes review into decision to close heart surgery unit in Leeds

Member of Parliament for Leeds North West, Greg Mulholland has welcomed the decision by the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to launch a review into the decision to close three children’s heart surgery units, including that in Leeds.

The Independent Reconfiguration Panel has been asked to look at how the decision was made.

I am pleased that the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt has now decided to order a review into the decision to close the Leeds children’s heart unit.

It has been of great concern that the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts have continued to try and force through these proposals and have them implemented, despite the very serious concerns that still exists and the need for full scrutiny into how these decisions were made.

The failure of the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts to listen to the very serious concerns of people from across the region has been deeply worrying and the Secretary of State has done the right thing in launching a review into what is viewed by many, as a deeply flawed decision.

It has become clearer and clearer since the decision was made to close the Leeds unit that these recommendations are deeply flawed and must be rejected. They impact on so many staff, patients and families, and these deserve full and proper overview and scrutiny of any proposals. I hope this review will see the illogical recommendations thrown out, and questions asked as to how they could possibly have come to them, considering the evidence.”

– Greg Mulholland MP


Children's Heart Surgery Fund says review needs to look "deeply" to avoid "another government blunder"

Sharon Cheng, director the Children's Heart Surgery Fund, has given her reaction to the announcement that there will be a review into plans to stop paediatric cardiology services in Leeds and Leicester.

We're thrilled!

It's not just us that are singing from the rooftops. This just reinforces our position and our concerns. These are concerns from all over the regions.

It needs to looked at deeply, not just pasting over the cracks.

We don't want to be another government blunder.

– Sharon Cheng, Children's Heart Surgery Fund

Children's heart surgery campaign at critical crossroad

There are just two months to go until the decision is made on the future of the Leeds Children's Heart Unit.

An independent group which provides advice to the Secretary of State on contested proposals for health change in England, says vital research on where people would travel to if the facilities in Leeds were forced to close should be considered as part of the final decision.

As a result, the Joint Chairs of Primary Care Trusts, the panel which will make the final decision, will consider it as part of their decision making process.For more information on the fight to save heart surgery services in Yorkshire and to find out how you can help visit this website.