Pressure intensifies to halt heart surgery suspension



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Calls are mounting for Sir Bruce Keogh to resign after a leading cardiac health group criticised the “premature” suspension of children’s heart surgery at Leeds General Infirmary.

More than 560 people had signed an online petition demanding the medical director of NHS England stands down after he suspended operations at the facility in a move the British Congenital Cardiac Association (BCCA) claims could put a massive strain on services across the north of England.

Sir Bruce said the suspension was imposed for a “constellation of reasons” including leaked data showing death rates in the unit at least double the average but Dr Tony Salmon, the BCCA’s president, said he was not aware of any centres having a higher than expected mortality rate and that the Central Cardiac Audit Database which had compiled the data for the last decade must be given the opportunity to examine, audit and correct the data before any conclusions are drawn about mortality.

He warned: “The clinical fallout of ceasing surgical and catheter interventions, even for a short period, could lead to acute under provision of services in the North of England.”

Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland tweeted a link to the e-petition calling for Sir Bruce to step down and said he was hopeful that the suspension would be lifted this week.

Fabian Hamilton, Labour MP for Leeds North East, believes calls for Sir Bruce to resign was the wrong tactic.

He said: “I think what’s important is that very, very rapid action is taken to restore operations at Leeds. There is a systematic problem here that Sir Bruce Keogh is part of. If he is goes, he will just be replaced by someone else.”

An internal meeting is due to go ahead at the hospital today (April 2) involving clinicians and cardiology experts.

David Watson with the Aspire heart valve he developed.

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