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  1. National

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

Heart surgery to resume in Leeds

Heart surgery is to resume at Leeds General Infirmary after a lengthy meeting to review the decision to suspend it.

Sir Bruce Keogh, medical director of the NHS, said he had been contacted by two whistleblowers last Tuesday, who said they had data showing mortality rates for the children's heart unit carrying out children's heart surgery was higher than expected.

He also said there were suspicions that LGI were not referring complex cases onto other centres.

But now, after a meeting between NHS authorities, surgery will resume next week.

Following a productive multi-agency meeting to review the decision to

suspend children’s cardiac surgery at Leeds General Infirmary, agreementwas reached to work together to restart surgery on the site early next weeksubject to independent assurance of concerns raised.

The meeting involved NHS England, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust,the NHS Trust Development Authority, and the Care Quality Commission.

Over the course of the weekend all agencies will work together toprovide sufficient assurance to all interested parties that this service is safe and can therefore re-open next week.

– Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust

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  1. National

'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
  1. National

MP thanks 'inspirational' Leeds heart unit supporters

Stuart Andrew, MP for Pudsey, Horsforth & Aireborough, has tweeted his thanks to all who support the reopening of the children's heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary.

Greg Mulholland, MP for Leeds, has also welcomed the news.

Leeds heart unit death rate "same as other hospitals"

A children's heart consultant at Leeds General Infirmary says claims that death rates at the unit are twice the national average are incorrect - and its mortality figures are comparable to other children's heart surgery centres.

Surgery has been suspended at Leeds amid claims by the medical director of NHS England that too many children are dying after operations. But a furious row has now developed about the accuracy of the death rate data. The doctor who compiled the figures, said yesterday they are a work in progress.

And now Elspeth Brown, a consultant in children's cardiology at Leeds, has told ITV Calendar that doctors at the hospital have analysed the death rates themselves since surgery was halted on Thursday and found that deaths are not increasing.

"Our figures show that looking back over three years, we've had 27 deaths out of 940 operations - those were deaths within 30 days of the operations... and there has been no particular difference year on year - and those figures compare very well with figures from the rest of the country."

– Elspeth Brown, consultant in children's cardiology, Leeds

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Health authority praises LGI for suspending heart surgery

Health watchdog NHS England today praised Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust for suspending children's heart surgery - while checks are made to ensure the unit is operating safely.

"The Trust has taken a highly responsible precautionary step. Some questions have been raised by the Trust's own mortality data and by other information.

It is important to understand that while this information raises questions, it does not give us answers. But it is absolutley right not to take any risks while these matters are being looked into. The priority must be the safety of children. I hope that Leeds will shortly be in a position to restart children's heart surgery secure in the knowledge that everything is okay."

– Sir Bruce Keogh, the Medical Director of NHS England

NHS to consider grounds for appeal

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

Following today’s ruling, we are strongly considering our grounds for appeal. The NHS remains as determined as ever to reconfigure children’s heart services. The NHS will of course study the ruling carefully and its implications. The Judge was very clear that she was not advocating a return to the start of the review process. I am pleased that the Judge has upheld our decisions in relation to the quality standards and the model of care.

We will give due consideration to the judgment and will advise people of the next steps in the process at the beginning of April. We will aim to reach a final decision in June 2013, pending the outcome of the separate IRP process. The expert view remains that the longer vested interests delay this process, the greater the risk of safety concerns manifesting in the units.

I never forget that the purpose of our work is saving lives and improving quality of life for children, and on behalf of the NHS I want to reassure families, patients and clinicians that we remain as determined as ever to reconfigure services for children with congenital heart disease in the interests of better outcomes and a more safe and sustainable service for children and their families. The decision we took in July last year will help save children’s lives, reduce co-morbidities and ensure ongoing care is provided closer to many families’ homes.”

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

Partial victory for heart surgery campaigners

A High Court judge has quashed part of an NHS consultation process to decide the future of children's heart surgery in Leeds. Mrs Justice Nicola Davies acted after recently ruling that the process was legally flawed in relation to the decision to close the unit at Leeds General Infirmary.

The judge said aspects of the Leeds consultations, including a failure to make relevant information available to consultees, was "ill judged". But she stressed she was only quashing "one part" of the JCPCT decision so that there could be "re-consultation and reconsideration" over the Leeds closure.

The judge emphasised that she was not ordering that the whole consultation process had to return to the start. Her decision was a qualified victory for Save Our Surgery (SOS), which represents some 600,000 residents in the Leeds area fighting to keep their unit open.

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