On Friday 25 March 2011, Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones spent time with a number of families who would be affected if the children’s heart unit at the LGI were to close.
The unit is under a threat of closure after the announcement that there are now four options for providing this specialist care, but the LGI features in only one of those options.
Surgeon Kevin Watterson was due to attend the meeting and was en-route to the meeting when he was called back to the LGI to attend to an emergency.
The reasons for the changes were discussed amongst the group and while initially thought to be driven by budget issues and cutback, Andrew Jones clarified that was not the case and the reasons for the change was to improve the quality of service after there had been problems at a Bristol Hospital. The changes had been instigated by the previous government and had been a long-time in discussion.
Andrew Jones MP was very sympathetic and supportive to the families and offered his help. He explained that he has already brought this issue up in a House of Commons debate.
The meeting discussed the effect that the closure would have on families. Lisa and Nick Clayton-Price spoke of their experiences after their child had become poorly, initially being taken to Harrogate Hospital and then quickly being taken by Ambulance to the LGI. They showed an obvious admiration to the treatment that they had been given and how things such as the attached accommodation to LGI for parents had really helped make things easier at a difficult time.
If the unit were to close then the nearest unit would likely be Newcastle, Emma-Louise Fowler commented: “How could a single Mum or somebody on benefits be able to afford to go to Newcastle and pay to stop over, the costs would be massive”
Nick Clayton-Price added “I don’t think our baby would of made it all the way to Newcastle”
Allison Mace also expressed concerns over how critical time was with small children she commented : “My grand-daughter was taken to Harrogate very poorly – she had already had some surgery at the LGI
The surgeon came out from Leeds to Harrogate on his motorbike to stabilise Georgia.
I don’t think Georgia would be here now without him being there so quickly”
The meeting turned to what needed to be done to influence the decision and ensure the heart unit remained open. Ways of gaining wider-public awareness, gaining paper signatures and electronic signatures was discussed. It was acknowledged though that the issues was maybe not one you may know about unless you have a poorly baby.
Andrew Jones MP also commented “I will gladly take a signed petition to Number 10”
During the meeting there were obvious concern expressed by all around the table and some very heart-felt stories also told.
Time was running short and it was agreed that another meeting should be arranged to discuss the actions needed to be taken.
If you would like to help:-
join the facbook group Preventing the close of the LGI heart unit
Sign the online petition
Keep a look-out for events being run to raise awareness/signatures
Many thanks to the City Executive Offices for allowing the meeting to use their facilities.