Support Builds for Leeds Children's Heart Unit

Representatives and trustees from the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF), doctors and councillors today (9 November) presented the Yorkshire & The Humber Joint Health & Overview Scrutiny Committee's report to 16 influential MPs and Peers at the House of Commons.

The representatives from CHSF used the opportunity to discuss the flaws and inaccuracies apparent in the Report as well as recommending to retain Leeds as an option. This comes following the announcement on Monday (7 November) that the Royal Brompton Hospital in London has won its High Court bid to seek a judicial review into the decision to close its children's heart surgery unit calling the consultation unlawful and claiming it must be quashed.

The meeting, hosted by Stuart Andrew MP for Pudsey, Horsforth and Aireborough, also highlighted the publication of independent research last week which confirms that the Review's predictions of patient flows did not match local knowledge and that most of Leeds's future and existing patients would travel to Liverpool or Leicester for treatment rather than Newcastle. This will have an impact on the projected number of operations at Newcastle.

Stuart Andrew MP said ‘‘The meeting yesterday provided an excellent opportunity for MPs and peers to meet with representatives from the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund and councillors to discuss the recent Yorkshire and the Humber Scrutiny Committee report on the Safe and Sustainable Review of children’s congenital heart surgery services which is threatening the Leeds Children’s Heart Surgery Unit. What is clear is that the travel figures released in a recent report by Embrace show a real threat to children’s heart surgery, not just in Leeds but across the North as a whole.

‘A large number of MPs are very concerned about the lack of transparency with the Safe and Sustainable Review and that serious issues such as population density and travel times do not appear to have been taken into consideration in the decision making process. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of retaining the Leeds Unit for poorly children and their families across Yorkshire and the Humber and the North Midlands.’

Children’s Heart Surgery Fund director, Sharon Cheng, said: “We are extremely grateful to everyone for their time today in what was a very productive meeting. Everyone felt it was a helpful platform to raise our concerns about the process to date and discuss the ongoing activity.

“Whilst we welcome the decision on the Royal Brompton case, it does mean there is going to be a further period of uncertainty over the future of the unit. We feel the whole consultation process has been riddled with flaws and inaccuracies. We have used today to discuss alternative options which see more surgeries stay open and continue to provide quality care nationwide.”

The discussion today follows a meeting last week (2 November) in which Jeremy Glyde, Director of Safe and Sustainable, confirmed that a number of options which include Leeds are being considered.

Earlier this year over 600,000 people signed a petition supporting the children’s heart unit at the LGI, which provides life-saving surgery to hundreds of children in Yorkshire and the Humber and beyond annually. The Unit is accessible to over 14 million people in less than two hours, including over five million people in Yorkshire and The Humber alone. The campaign has received cross party support.

For more information on the fight to save these vital services in Yorkshire and to find out how you can help visit www.chsf.org.uk