Leeds campaigners condemn heart unit data leak

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HOSPITAL bosses have reiterated that there are “no concerns” about safety at Leeds children’s heart surgery unit after death rate figures were leaked.

Supporters of the unit criticised the release of the data, which it was claimed showed that mortality rates were unexpectedly high – but analysis has previously shown no issues with care.

Campaigners backing the previously-threatened Leeds General Infirmary unit called the leak “scurrilous”.

Sharon Cheng, CEO of the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, said they were “disturbed and disappointed”: “This is the latest in more than three years of an agenda against the Leeds unit, which is not swayed by facts and serves only to unnecessarily unsettle and frighten patients and their families.

“This kind of behaviour must stop so that the surgeons and staff of the Leeds unit can focus on their lifesaving work, and patients can be cared for and know that they are safe. This is the reality of their work – not the scurrilous claims of these leaks and smears.”

The leaked letter was sent by the National Institute for Cardiovascular Outcomes Research (NICOR), which collects data about heart surgery, to Leeds hospitals and appears to say information from 2010 to 2013 shows higher than expected death rates.

But a review a published earlier this year and using the same figures found no issues. A further report relating to the suspension of operations last year is expected soon.

Dr Yvette Oade, chief medical officer for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We are absolutely clear that there are no concerns about safety at our unit and we are pleased that NHS England has confirmed this following an independent review.”

A spokesman for NICOR said survival rates may be affected by complexity of cases and small numbers, and there was a 1 in 40 chance that a hospital would reach a warning limit by chance.

The figures will be officially published tomorrow.

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