Video: Show of strength over Leeds heart unit closure

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“WE shall not be moved” was the cry of thousands fighting to keep children’s heart surgery in Leeds.

They took to the city’s streets in a massive show of support for the threatened Leeds General Infirmary unit.

A march through Leeds city centre in support of the Leeds General Infirmary Children's Heart Unit.

A march through Leeds city centre in support of the Leeds General Infirmary Children's Heart Unit.

And today Sir Neil McKay, chairman of the panel which took the controversial decision, was to face a grilling by Yorkshire politicians.

It is likely they will then ask Health Secretary Andrew Lansley to intervene in an attempt to get the move overturned.

Up to 3,000 people are said to have joined a demonstration and march in Leeds city centre to call for the ward to be reprieved.

Mum Sally Boocock told the crowds, to huge cheers: “We may have lost the first battle, but we have not lost the war. We will keep on fighting.”

A march through Leeds city centre in support of the Leeds General Infirmary Children's Heart Unit.

A march through Leeds city centre in support of the Leeds General Infirmary Children's Heart Unit.

Earlier this month campaigners were left in tears after health bosses decided which hospitals across the country would have to stop carrying out heart operations on children.

The decision – part of a national review to improve standards – means sick youngsters from Leeds and Wakefield would be expected to go to Newcastle instead.

But campaigners, backed by MPs, councillors, hospital staff and a 600,000-signature petition, vowed to battle on.

Yesterday thousands turned out to voice their anger about the loss of the lifesaving service.

A march through Leeds city centre in support of the Leeds General Infirmary Children's Heart Unit.

A march through Leeds city centre in support of the Leeds General Infirmary Children's Heart Unit.

Lois Brown, who had to resuscitate her daughter Amelie twice before she was rushed to LGI, told the rally: “We want the best service, but we don’t want it at the cost of our children’s lives and our grandchildren’s lives. We want the service in Leeds and we should keep it open.”

Jon Arnold, whose daughter Zoe is a patient at the Leeds unit, said they were now pinning their hopes on the outcome of today’s meeting.

A committee of councillors from across Yorkshire will quiz Sir Neil McKay about why Leeds has lost out.

The politicians are then likely to refer the decision to the Health Secretary, who could ask for it to be reviewed.

A march through Leeds city centre in support of the Leeds General Infirmary Children's Heart Unit.

A march through Leeds city centre in support of the Leeds General Infirmary Children's Heart Unit.

That move has been backed by Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, who told the YEP: “I think he should look at this again.”

Sir Neil, chairman of the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts, said: “I look forward to demonstrating the robustness of the Safe and Sustainable review and explaining the different factors we considered before reaching our decision.”

Foot reader Jane Sheehan.

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