YEP Says, September 16: A cautious welcome to key tests to decide fate of city heart unit

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...and is call for better transport links too pie in the sky?

GIVEN the mess that was made last time, any change to the criteria to decide which children’s heart surgery units stay open should be cause for celebration.

Health chiefs who were forced into an embarrassing U-turn on their proposals to axe the unit in Leeds have unveiled details of key standards hospitals will be expected to meet. Those that do will stay open, those that don’t will shut.

These include staffing with hospitals carrying out surgery being expected to provide 24/7 services employing a minimum of four surgeons who must carry out 125 operations each year.

Latest figures reveal 510 paediatric cardiac procedures were carried out in Leeds – the seventh highest number out of 10 centres in the country. However, a further 240 were performed on adults with congenital heart disease – the second highest in England.

Health bosses insist this is not a done deal, but it will be interesting to see how these figures will be used to ultimately decide which units continue.

After all, if the Newcastle centre was to close and its patients referred to Leeds instead then the number of operations being performed would rise further.

But what cannot afford to happen is for this process to be seen in the same negative light as the last.

Every step must be fair and transparent, with the Leeds unit given every chance to state its case.

Call for transport link a bit too pie in the sky?

THIS Thursday’s vote on Scottish independence is rightly being seen as an opportunity to push Yorkshire’s case for more powers.

Senior council figures in the region have come up with a list of demands including greater control over local and business taxation and freedom to take key decisions on transport and skills locally.

One inclusion, however, may raise a few eyebrows.

Given the lengthy wrangle over trolleybus and the 20-year wait for high-speed rail, the demand for a “rapid transport system” connecting Leeds to other West Yorkshire cities and towns may stretching the bounds of credibility.

PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

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