£300,000 cost of reports into Leeds children’s heart ops suspension

Greg Mulholland
Greg Mulholland
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reports into the temporary suspension of children’s heart surgery in Leeds cost more than £300,000 – the vast majority due to the involvement of private consultants.

NHS bosses have revealed reviews into the pause in procedures at Leeds General Infirmary last year totalled £303,000 so far.

Nearly £260,000 of that was for an independent investigation by private firm Verita, which is due to be published tomorrow.

An MP said questions needed to be asked about the “startling” figure, and called for assurances Leeds hospitals would not have to foot the bill.

Greg Mulholland, Lib Dem MP for Leeds North West, said: “This is a very significant amount of money and a startling amount to have been spent on reports into what we now know was a needless suspension of surgery which in itself cost money and disrupted services.

“We do need the full explanation and all the information in the public domain which we still don’t have, but there are question marks as to why one overarching report is costing so much money.

“I also want a clear assurance that this money will come from NHS England’s budget and not from Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust’s budget, or impact on services at Leeds.”

National health chiefs suspended surgery at the Leeds children’s heart unit in March last year because of concerns, including fears over apparently high death rates and issues raised by doctors at other hospitals.

The suspension was shrouded in controversy as the unit had previously been threatened with closure and campaigners had won a landmark legal case fighting the plans just the day before the decision.

After an initial “rapid review”, no safety concerns were found and surgery was restarted, with the data on death rates was shown to be incorrect soon afterwards.

Information provided by NHS England in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request shows that the review cost £8,638.

Further reports were also commissioned, two of which were published in June – a review of all deaths, which cost £11,884, and showed no concerns about mortality rates. Another review, detailing experiences of families of patients, cost £24,525 and was critical of care.

A further report on issues raised by non-Leeds doctors, carried out by Verita, is set to be published tomorrow. NHS bosses have revealed the private firm has also been commissioned to compile an overarching review.

The FOI response says the Verita review has cost £258,475.

An NHS England spokesperson said: “This was a full, thorough and independent investigation of important patient safety-related issues involving two hospitals, substantial evidence, and many interviews with patients, staff and external organisations. It will help the NHS improve care in future. A full procurement exercise was conducted including competitive tendering to make sure the report commissioned was fit for purpose and value for money.”

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