Heart unit battle: Latest

The Government played no part in the decision to suspend children's heart surgery at Leeds General Infirmary, peers were told today.

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Campaigners respond to latest argument over children's heart services

A parent has described comments by a medical expert over children's heart surgery in Leeds as 'brave'.

Ivan Hollingsworth was responding to remarks made by Professor Sir Roger Boyle, a former Government advisor.

The professor said he wouldn't send his own daughter for heart surgery in Leeds but would choose Newcastle instead.

Operations at the Leeds unit were recently suspended but resumed this week.

Ivan Hollingsworth, a campaigner for the Newcastle unit, welcomed the professor's intervention.

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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.


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


Leeds defends their heart unit: 'Surgery in Leeds is safe'

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has defended the re-opening of a children's heart unit after Sir Roger Boyle the Department of Health's former National Director for Heart Disease said he would not send his daughter to the unit.

Low-risk operations resumed at Leeds General Infirmary on Wednesday. Credit: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

A spokesperson for the Leeds teaching hospitals NHS Trust said:

"On Monday we announced that we were reopening the children's heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary.

"All partners were fully in agreement that this was the correct course of action to take and surgery has now resumed.

"This was publicly reconfirmed at a meeting of councillors held in Leeds on Wednesday when the deputy medical director of NHS England reaffirmed the view that all the child heart surgery units in England, including Leeds, are safe to undertake surgery."

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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:

'Boyle speaking without regard for patients & families'

Sharon Cheng, of Save Our Surgery (SOS), which campaigned for surgery to be resumed at Leeds, said:

"Sir Roger Boyle's comments of this morning are extremely unhelpful and undermine the progress made over the last few days to begin to rebuild heart patients' families' trust and confidence in the Leeds children's heart surgery unit.

"His implication that surgery should not have been resumed at Leeds contradicts everything we have heard from NHS England, the Care Quality Commission and NHS medical director, Sir Bruce Keogh, who have all stated unequivocally that the unit is safe, hence their resumption of surgery.

"Sir Bruce himself went on record this week saying he would feel comfortable having his child operated on in the unit.

"Let me be absolutely clear - the Leeds unit would not be operating if there were any concerns whatsoever about mortality rates or anything else.

"Once again, this is an example of Sir Roger Boyle speaking out without due regard to the necessary process, the verified facts or the implications of his actions on patients and their families.

"He is not an impartial party in regards to Leeds and as an adviser to the Safe and Sustainable review, we do question his motives."

Former heart tsar would send his own daughter to Newcastle over Leeds

The Government's former heart disease research chief has said he would not send his own daughter for treatment at Leeds General Infirmary's child cardiac unit, despite it being reopened earlier this week.

Professor Sir Roger Boyle, director of the National Institute for Clinical Outcomes Research, which oversees NHS mortality data, told the BBC that care at the centre was "on the edge of acceptability."

Surgery at the hospital was suspended at the end of last month after NHS England said it had "serious concerns" that data showed the unit had a death rate double that of other centres. It resumed again on Wednesday. He told the BBC:

"We find they're just on the edge of what we call an alert. In other words, showing that they were right on the edge of acceptability."

He added that he would not send his children to Leeds.

"I would go somewhere else," he said.

"I would go to Newcastle."

– Sir Roger Boyle,director of the National Institute for Clinical Outcomes Research


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