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Leeds children’s heart unit to go

The decision by the NHS’s Safe and Sustainable review into national children’s heart surgery provision today (4 July) has concluded that surgery at

the Leeds Unit will not remain.

The decision was made at a public meeting by the JCPCT at the Trade Union Congress in London earlier today and follows two years of hard work and campaigning by the trust and charity The Children’s Heart Surgery Fund.

Sharon Cheng, Director of the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, said:

Today was a rubber stamping exercise. The panel has listened to clinicians and doctors and ultimately decided ‘doctors know best’. Clinical logic has not been taken into consideration. They have ignored co-location. They have ignored patient choice.

We will now appeal to the health minister as he assured us a decision would be made on clinical logic. This has not happened today.

I would like to re-iterate the message Andrew Lansley has quoted in the past “No decision about me without me.

The panel decided Option B was the best option for future heart surgery provision which contains the following centres:

· London x2

· Southampton

· Birmingham

· Bristol

· Newcastle

· Liverpool

The charity has had concerns around the consultation process and this decision fails to recognise a number of important issues which were highlighted throughout the process. The hospital boasts excellent co-location of services, everything under one roof, from maternity through to adult congenital services, meaning patients do not have to travel to access different services. The Unit would be capable of over 400 operations per year in the future given current population growth; a figure determined by the review to ensure surgeons remain skilled and experienced – a key consideration of the review.

The Unit at Leeds serves a population of 14.2 million people in Yorkshire and the Humber within a two hour drive time which will now be forced to travel to Units in Newcastle, Liverpool or Birmingham. However, independent research clearly shows that patients will not travel to Newcastle but will instead choose alternative Units such as Liverpool and Birmingham leaving Newcastle unable to reach the 400 operations target. Without being able to meet this target the Unit at Newcastle could, in the future, also be forced to close leaving a huge area in the North without any children’s heart surgery provision.

The MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough has vowed to keep up the fight against the closure of Leeds General Infirmary’s Children’s heart surgery unit that was announced earlier today.

Andrew Jones MP renewed his pledge to campaign against the closure of the unit after hearing the plans to close the unit and concentrate heart surgery in Newscastle and Liverpool.

Andrew has been involved in the campaign since the proposal was put forward as part the NHS’s ‘Safe and Sustainable’ review of the 11 children’s heart surgery units in England.

The review recommended a reduction in the number of units to create fewer, larger centres. It put forward four options for a four-month public consultation period, with the LGI unit featuring in only one option.

Andrew signed a petition along with more than 600,000 people which was taken to number 10, calling on the Government to save the unit and he has also spoken about it in the House of Commons.

In the constituency Andrew has met parents of children who have benefited from the Leeds unit.

Andrew says that the news, announced in London by the joint committee of primary care trusts, was intensely disappointing but vowed to fight on with local campaigners.

Andrew Jones MP said: 

I have campaigned hard with a lot of passionate people, so as you can expect, we are all sad to hear the news.

But this isn’t the end of the road. With local MPs, I will be looking at all the options one of which could be to take the decision to judicial review.

I will continue to support the heart unit all the way and work with campaigners to ensure it stays open.

All those who have been involved in this campaign must be praised for their hard work and I’m sure none of them will give up hope.


Mike Collier, Chairman of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said today:

This result flies in the face of logical health care planning and plain common sense.

We genuinely believe that the decision will not deliver the stated aims of the Safe & Sustainable Paediatric Cardiac Services review.

This decision seems almost perverse in light of the information which became available during the course of the consultation process. We are surprised that the very clear wishes of over 600,000 people from this region appear to have been disregarded.

On geography and population density alone the case for Leeds remains as strong as ever. We will now carefully consider, with our supporters, what action to take as a result of this very disappointing decision.


Lisa Mulherin, Executive Member for Public Health at Leeds City Council: 

Leeds City Council condemns today’s decision by the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts to close the children’s heart surgery unit in Leeds.

There is absolutely no doubt that the loss of this facility will have a serious and detrimental impact on ill and vulnerable children and their families right across our region.

The decision will leave 5.5 million people in Yorkshire and Humberside, and 14 million people living within a two hour drive of Leeds severely and disproportionately disadvantaged.


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