The fight to save children’s heart surgery in Leeds will move up a gear when campaigners stage a march through the city centre later this month.
Parents, patients, medical staff and MPs are encouraging people to join the “peaceful demonstration”, which will start at noon on Monday, July 23.
The march, which will set off from Millennium Square, will end with speeches from local MPs and representatives from the charity in a bid to rally support for the threatened unit.
The unit at Leeds General Infirmary was earmarked for closure after a national review of children’s heart surgery delivery concluded last week.
The decision will leave Yorkshire without a dedicated unit, meaning parents would have to take their children to Newcastle or Liverpool for life-saving surgery.
Sharon Cheng, director of the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF) at Leeds General Infirmary, said: “The decision to close the unit is an outrage.
“Decision makers ignored the evidence put forward to keep children’s heart surgery in Leeds and we will fight to have this decision overturned.
“This demonstration will be peaceful but we are determined to make our voices heard.
“Future generations will be affected by this decision and as birth rates are set to soar in the next 10 years, we have to look to the future, so this region should not be disadvantaged.
“We are encouraging everyone to come out and support us in our fight to save life-saving surgery provision for the people of Yorkshire and beyond.”
As reported in the YEP on Wednesday, more than 30 MPs joined trustees from CHSF at the House of Commons to discuss plans for the campaign.
MPs including Greg Mulholland (Lib Dem, Leeds North West) have described the review which earmarked the LGI unit for closure as “deeply flawed”.
Mr Mulholland said: “We have no confidence in the JCPCT’s [Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts] deeply flawed decision to close the Leeds heart unit and it is time their illogical recommendations were thrown out and questions asked as to how they could possibly have come to them, considering the evidence.”
Last year, over 600,000 people signed a petition supporting the unit, which operates on hundreds of children every year.