Fight lost to keep Leeds children’s heart unit open

Guardian News
Guardian News

NHS bosses will close Yorkshire’s only children’s heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary - used by hundreds of families across the region.

Following an announcement made on Wednesday, they decided the best option for future heart surgery provision would contain two centres in London and one each in Southampton, Birmingham, Bristol, Newcastle and Liverpool.

Announcing the decision Sir Neil McKay, chairman of the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts, said: “This is a landmark decision that clinicians and patients have long called for which will enable the NHS to improve care for children with congenital heart disease.”

“The needs of children, not the vested interests of hospitals, have been at the heart of this review. We only took the decision today after undergoing a robust, fair and transparent process which has already withstood the scrutiny of the highest courts in the land. Before making our decision, we carefully considered the responses to public consultation and all the available evidence and advice.”

“Parents, patients and clinicians told us consistently during consultation that quality of care should be the most important factor, so hospitals’ ability to meet the new national quality standards was foremost in our minds when coming to this decision.”

“We recognise these are difficult decisions to make, and that some people will be disappointed to lose their nearest surgical centre. However, we strongly believe our decision is in the best interests of all children and will ensure services are safe and sustainable for the future.”

Following Wednesday’s decision, 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.”

What do you think of the decision to close the children’s heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary?

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