Call for more time over Leeds heart surgery review

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The health Secretary is considering a request to extend a deadline for an independent review of plans to move children’s heart surgery from Leeds.

Coun John Illingworth, chairman of a Yorkshire committee investigating the controversial plans, has urged Jeremy Hunt to allow more time for the review.

The Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) is expected to give their advice about the national shake-up of children’s heart surgery to the Health Secretary on Tuesday.

But Coun Illingworth said a legal challenge and the recent temporary suspension of surgery at the Leeds General Infirmary unit meant his committee could not give comments to the panel before the deadline.

Last summer NHS bosses decided the LGI unit should shut as part of the national reorganisation of children’s heart surgery services designed to improve care.

That led to a major outcry and the Government asked the IRP to look into the whole shake-up.

Meanwhile Leeds campaigners Save Our Surgery won their High Court challenge overturning the closure of the LGI unit.

Coun Illingworth, chair of the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee for Yorkshire and Humber, said the fact NHS England were seeking leave to appeal the High Court case meant it was unlikely that the IRP would be able to produce a comprehensive report, while councillors had also only just received a copy of the full court judgement.

“With events surrounding the temporary suspension and subsequent reinstatement of children’s heart surgery at LGI significantly increasing the complexity associated with the review, we strongly urge Jeremy Hunt to consider our request so that this convoluted process is not thrown into further disarray,” he added.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said the Health Secretary was considering the letter.

The IRP said they would submit their advice by Tuesday and it would be published when Mr Hunt had made a decision.

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