‘Confidential’ Leeds heart unit reports released

Protesters against the closure of the Leeds children's heart surgery.
Protesters against the closure of the Leeds children's heart surgery.
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NHS heads have released documents about the controversial decision to close the Leeds children’s heart surgery unit that were previously deemed ‘confidential’.

The information is the latest to be provided following requests under the Freedom of Information Act from Coun John Illingworth.

The Leeds councillor complained to the Government’s information watchdog after he was told some of the paperwork relating to the Safe and Sustainable review of children’s cardiac surgery was confidential.

He said: “We should ask why they needed to keep all these reports secret?

“The lesson that I have learned from the Safe and Sustainable fiasco is that senior management in the NHS is sometimes downright poor.”

The disclosure comes as Leeds campaigners went to the High Court in London today to challenge the moves to take children’s heart surgery away from Leeds General Infirmary.

A two-day judicial review will hear criticisms over the way NHS body the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts came to their decision.

Youngsters from Leeds and Wakefield will have to travel to Newcastle for surgery if the LGI unit shuts.

The Newcastle hospital performs heart transplants and the newly-released documents show that experts advising the decision-makers said there were “significant risks” around moving the transplant surgery centre if Newcastle no longer carried out heart operations on children.

Jeremy Glyde, programme director for Safe and Sustainable, said they had published “large volumes” of material including providing 18kg of documents to Coun Illingworth, and replied to the Information Commissioner.

He said: “This week we have provided the councillor with additional information, which would not usually be publicly available because we regarded it as advice to ministers.

“We believe the way in which the NHS reached its decision was robust, fair and transparent.”

Vanellope Hope Wilkins. PIC: PA

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