Video: Last plea in bid to keep children’s heart surgery in Leeds

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A last-ditch demand has been made by Yorkshire politicians to keep children’s heart surgery in Leeds.

They say losing the lifesaving service would “disproportionately disadvantage” youngsters and their families from right across the region.

In a hard-hitting draft response to decision-makers, the councillors say they are “appalled with the disregard displayed by some senior NHS officials involved in the review and associated consultation”.

They added that they were “stunned by the contempt towards the legitimate public scrutiny of the proposals”.

More than 650,000 people have signed the Save Our Surgery petition calling for the Leeds General Infirmary unit to stay open.

Councillors from across Yorkshire have been looking into the review of children’s heart surgery, which has put the Leeds service under threat of closure.

Experts want to reduce the number of hospitals doing cardiac operations on youngsters because they say having fewer centres would make the operations safer.

But a huge campaign - backed by the Yorkshire Evening Post - has attracted massive support for the Leeds unit, which is seriously at risk as it appears in only one out of four options for future set-ups.

A consultation earlier this year aimed to get the views of the public and other groups, while local authorities have been given until early October to give their responses.

The specially created committee of councillors from across Yorkshire is to recommend that the children’s cardiac surgery facilities in Leeds are retained.

In a report to the review team, the politicians say: “We believe any future configuration that does not include a surgical centre in Leeds would disproportionately disadvantage children and families across the region.”

Leeds Children’s Hospital, at LGI, offers the “gold standard” by having all services on one site, it adds.

The committee also recommends that a new set-up for children’s heart surgery should feature eight hospitals, including in Leeds and Newcastle.

Criticism was directed at the lack of availability of extra information, including about where patients would choose to go, and about the problems getting a member of the body which will make the final decision to face questions from councillors.

As reported in the Yorkshire Evening Post last week, a sitting member of the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) only attended after being summoned by councillors.

Their report says that the failure of the JCPCT to engage demonstrates “contempt” and has “increased cynicism and a lack of confidence in the decision-making process.”

It was also revealed at the meeting of councillors that the final decision on the heart surgery review, which was expected in November, will now not be made until December.

Colin Ferrie.

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