Harrogate and Knaresborough MP, Andrew Jones, spoke out in the Chamber of the House of Commons this week in a bid to raise the profile of the Leeds General Infirmary Children’s Heart Unit as the decision on the unit’s future approaches.
Mr Jones put a question on the unit direct to the Health Secretary, Rt Hon Andrew Lansley MP, at Questions to the Secretary of State for Health on Tuesday. MPs are selected by ballot to ask questions to Cabinet Ministers in the Chamber and Mr Jones came out eighth on the ballot. His question sparked a series of supportive interventions from MPs.
Mr Jones asked Secretary of State Andrew Lansley:
I am sure the Minister recognises the huge and spirited campaign by local people to retain the children’s heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary. Will the Minister confirm that Option E, which retains the unit, will receive full and equal consideration by the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts?
In his responses on the subject Mr Lansley said that the review would be based on evidence and is not constrained by the options so far developed.
Mr Lansley continued:
All the representations that we have received in the debates in this House are ample evidence of the high regard and support that Members have for their children’s heart surgery services. None of this is about saving money or resources. It is entirely about what delivers the best quality surgical services for children with cardiac problems.
After questions, Andrew commented:
I know that campaigners to keep the unit at LGI have put forward a compelling case. This is being considered as one of five options but none of the other four options include keeping the LGI facility open. The Leeds option deserves equal billing with the other options and that is why I asked the Health Secretary to guarantee that it will get that equal billing.
As part of the LGI campaign, Andrew has met with constituents whose parents and children have directly benefit, he attended and spoke in a parliamentary debate on the issue, he met with the chair of the body looking at the proposals to make clear local concern, signed the petition opposing closure and has raised the profile of the campaign in several radio programmes and newspaper articles.
Mr Jones added:
The petition to save the unit has been signed by more than 600,000 people across Yorkshire including me. It is clear that there is a significant body of opinion supporting retention of the unit. I am pleased to be working alongside my Yorkshire colleagues of all political parties to put that case across.