Harrogate and Knaresborough MP, Andrew Jones, welcomed the decision to have an independent review of the decision to close Leeds General Hospital’s Children’s Heart Surgery Unit, in an special Westminster debate on Tuesday.
The Leeds unit was earmarked for closure, with patients having to travel for treatment to the Newcastle’s Children’s Heart Unit, in the independent Safe and Sustainable review.
Andrew said the ‘highly unexpected’ decision to close LGI’s children’s heart surgery unit ‘surprised and disappointed’ him.
He said it was not a ‘Leeds versus Newcastle fight’, the review must focus on the process and recognise that both units have merit, and needed to move forward to deliver the best for patients.
In Leeds, we have a unit that offers excellence. The question in the review is about location, and in my opinion, that is where the Leeds unit should have scored particularly highly. It is also where the independent review needs to focus.
It is absolutely ridiculous; they simply will not do it. Bear in mind that the geography suggests that if anybody is going to do it, it should be those in the Harrogate and Knaresborough constituency, because we are already 15 to 20 miles north of Leeds, and therefore 15 to 20 miles nearer Newcastle.
But not one of my constituents have said they are willing to make that journey.”
He stated that Leeds has ‘good transport links’ and the key point is that the review proposed that everyone in the Harrogate postcode should travel north to Newcastle.
Andrew said he wants to see the Leeds unit continue its excellent work, ‘serving the people of Yorkshire and beyond’, but correct weighting needs to be given to the important factors of travel time and population numbers.
I hope that the Minister hears that point today, and that we do not start viewing this as a Leeds versus Newcastle contest. We should explore the opportunities for co-location and for a child-driven service.
To watch Andrew make this statement visit: www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=11550&player=silverlight&st=15:48:30
For more information on Andrew or the work he does in the constituency, please visit his website on: www.andrewjonesmp.co.uk