Leeds Save Our Surgery Campaign: Move to grill heart unit decision chief

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The chairman of the body deciding the future of children’s heart services in Leeds has been invited to answer questions in the city.

Councillors from across the region have asked Sir Neil McKay to attend a meeting next week.

Sir Neil, a former head of Leeds hospitals, is now chairing the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) which will make the final decision over children’s heart surgery.

The number of hospitals offering the service is to be cut and the unit at Leeds General Infirmary is under serious threat. Last week, as reported in the Yorkshire Evening Post, a national consultation showed that only 10 per cent of respondents chose the one option which would retain Leeds.

Now a committee of councillors from throughout Yorkshire has been created to draw up a response to the plans.

Chair and Leeds councillor Lisa Mulherin (Lab, Ardsley and Robin Hood) said there were “fundamental inconsistencies” in the way the options were drawn up. She said they were “astounded” that further work to test the assumptions about where patients and families are likely to travel for treatment was not going to be publicly available until after the final decision was made.

“In light of our concerns we firmly believe that Sir Neil McKay or one of the other decision-makers from the JCPCT needs to come to Leeds to listen to our concerns on behalf of the patients and families we represent and offer some answers to them,” she added.

However Jeremy Glyde, Safe and Sustainable review Programme Director, denied the information would not be shared until after the decision as he said it would be given to council committees.

“Where possible during the seven months Safe and Sustainable has consulted with Overview and Scrutiny Committees, the JCPCT has published evidence arising from consultation to enable them to make an informed final submission,” he said. “A final decision on the future of children’s congenital heart services is yet to be made and won’t be until the JCPCT has considered carefully all the available evidence.”

David Watson with the Aspire heart valve he developed.

Meet the man who made 50 years of heart research possible