The Children’s Heart Federation (CHF) have raised critical concerns over the care being offered for children’s heart surgery at the Leeds General Infirmary (LGI).
The CHF have provided little detail over their concerns but the LGI have expressed their disappointment and stressed that the outcome of three independent reports Specialised Commissioning Group, the Kennedy and Pollock reviews have all been positive.
The CHF have written to the Care Quality Commission (CCQ) who will now review the matter.
In a statement Anne Keatley-Clarke the Chief Executive of the CHF said:
“The Children’s Heart Federation (CHF) has written to the Care Quality Commission seeking reassurance that children’s heart surgery at Leeds is managed and delivered to consistently high standards to ensure that the long term quality of life outcomes for the children under the care of the unit reach the standards appropriate for UK paediatric cardiac units.
“We have been aware of concerns about the outcomes at Leeds for some time, based on information shared by parents through helplines and support provided by CHF member organisations, discussions within the context of the Safe and Sustainable programme and also by clinicians within the field of paediatric congenital heart care.
“Taken together, these pieces of information led us to the conclusion that there may be a problem with surgical care at Leeds. It is entirely within the remit of CHF, as a charity that works to ensure the best possible care and support for families affected by congenital and acquired heart conditions, to raise concerns in this way. We have asked the Care Quality Commission, as the appropriate authority, to look into the matter, and it is now for them to do their work.“
The Care Quality Commission commented today :
‘The Chief Executive of the Children’s Heart Federation approached the Care Quality Commission about concerns they had around children’s heart surgical services at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. The CQC is an intelligence led, risk based inspectorate and as such we take concerns that are passed on to us seriously. We are looking at the information and will consider if any follow up is appropriate.”
They CQC have stressed that an investigation is not underway, but a review of the referral from the CHF.
Maggie Boyle, Chief Executive of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said:
“The Trust is aware that the Children’s Heart Federation has made some serious allegations through the media about children’s heart surgery in Leeds.
“Our Chairman wrote four weeks ago to the charity urgently requesting details as naturally we are very concerned that the good name of our unit is being brought into question. When chasing an answer we were advised that it would be considered at the charity’s next meeting in September. That does not appear consistent with the level of urgency or degree of concern that Anne Keatley-Clarke, the charity’s Chief Executive, seems to be trying to suggest.
“During the past few months the Children’s Heart Federation have put incorrect information on their website making similar allegations, which when challenged by us were removed as they had no foundation.
“Over the past 18 months there has been comprehensive review on three separate occasions of children’s heart surgery at Leeds. On each occasion the external review found no basis for concern and confirmed our surgery is absolutely safe.
“We are not sure why Anne Keatley-Clarke is continuing to repeat unfounded allegations since, as a member of the Safe and Sustainable Review process, she will be aware of the outcome of these reviews.
“If she has new or different information which have led to these concerns being raised with the Care Quality Commission it is extremely remiss that she has not provided that information to the Trust in order that we can investigate it.
“We are very surprised at the approach which has been taken by the Chief Executive of the Children’s Heart Federation and our Chairman is urgently pursuing a conversation with the Chair of the charity.”
The CHF refer to a number of reasons for making the referral to the CCQ including: Parent’s at a recent Safe and Sustainable referring to a high number of operations and details from a broader range of data they have access to.
The CHF do acknowledge to the CQC that “Many parents of children treated at Leeds express a very high level of satisfaction with the service their children have received” but the situation has left some parents using the LGI children’s heart unit worried and concerned.
Currently the Children’s Heart services throughout England are under the final phase of review with the LGI under threat of possible closure. The public consultation closed on the 1 July 2011 with a final conclusion expected by the end of the year.