A PETITION calling for Leeds’ under-threat children’s heart surgery unit to be saved has topped 400,000 signatures.
City MP Greg Mulholland yesterday visited the Leeds General Infirmary ward as a regional campaign to save it grows even bigger.
The unit may have to close because of a national review which is cutting the number of hospitals providing cardiac operations for youngsters.
Mr Mulholland, one of a cross-party group of MPs campaigning to retain the service, met staff and families of sick children who would face long journeys to Newcastle or Liverpool.
The Lib Dem MP for Leeds North West said: “There is huge support in Leeds for the unit and the campaign has demonstrated just how important it is for so many people in the region. I enjoyed visiting the unit and meeting with families affected by any closure of the Leeds unit to provide them with the opportunity to share their concerns.”
The LGI ward only features in one out of four options for future set-ups for children’s heart surgery services. The proposals are not due to cost-cutting, but because experts think having fewer centres would be safer.
Sharon Cheng, director of LGI-based charity the Children’s Heart Surgery which is masterminding the Save Our Surgery campaign, said they were thrilled with Mr Mulholland’s support.
“Greg has been hugely supportive of the campaign from the beginning and has shown a clear understanding of the range of concerns that both we here at the unit have, as well as people within the region that would be affected by the closure of the unit,” she said.
She added that she was “overwhelmed” that more than 400,000 people had now signed the Save Our Surgery petition.
“I’m not surprised though as I’ve felt the strength of feeling when people are talking to you,” she added.
“People think it does not make any sense to take the service out of this region. I think we will get more signatures and I hope we will hit half a million.”
Campaigners plan to take the petitions to Downing Street next month. The consultation closes on July 1.