Leeds heart surgery campaign support from across Yorkshire

Bradford City's Luke O'Brien pictured with one week old Edward Atkinson in the Childrens Heart Surgery Unit, Leeds General Infirmary. PIC: Simon Hulme
Bradford City's Luke O'Brien pictured with one week old Edward Atkinson in the Childrens Heart Surgery Unit, Leeds General Infirmary. PIC: Simon Hulme
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A CAMPAIGN to keep children’s heart surgery in Leeds is attracting support from across Yorkshire.

Families from Sheffield are backing the threatened unit at Leeds General Infirmary and sports stars from Bradford have visited to meet poorly youngsters.

Councillors from across the region have also launched a joint inquiry into the proposals to cut the number of children’s heart surgery units in England.

As part of a national review, four options have been put out for public consultation and only one includes the LGI.

Now a joint health overview and scrutiny committee for Yorkshire and Humber has been formed to set out its own views to feed into the consultation which ends in July.

It will take evidence from witnesses including Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust, the national review team, doctors, parents and MPs.

At its first meeting, chairman Coun Mark Dobson (Lab, Garforth and Swillington) made a plea for the “excellent case” Leeds has to offer to be fully recognised. He felt that many of its advantages had not been given sufficient weight.

Coun Dobson said: “There’s a big case to be made for Leeds. It has a population of 750,000, is geographically at the heart of the country, is well-served by a network of motorways and excellent facilities at the LGI where all acute children’s services have already been brought together.”

Dr Kevin Smith, medical adviser to the specialised commissioning group, said the Leeds service had a much more developed local clinic network and outreach service than other locations.

The review was prompted by concerns that some centres were not performing enough operations to maintain and develop specialist skills. The committee heard there was general agreement over the need for a streamlined network and where units should be sited was the key issue.

Meanwhile players from Bradford City and Bradford Bulls visited Leeds General Infirmary, along with members of the Leeds Rhinos squad.

Sharon Cheng, director of LGI-based charity the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, said they were delighted with the support for their campaign.

“We are relying on ‘people power’ from across the Yorkshire region to get our message across to the Government that the Leeds unit simply cannot be allowed to close,” she said.

Views on the plans can be given via: www.ipsos-mori.com/safeandsustainable

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