Criticism over new Leeds heart surgery review

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politicians expressed their “disappointment” after a key figure in the shake-up over children’s heart surgery refused to attend their meeting.

The committee of Yorkshire councillors were discussing the latest moves in the controversial national review which previously put the Leeds unit under threat.

A leading figure in the process, John Holden of NHS England, was invited to update the board.

Mr Holden declined, saying that he had attended a previous meeting in September and to go to another so soon would be giving Yorkshire special attention.

In response, committee chairman John Illingworth said he was “extremely disappointed”, adding: “I am concerned that your response will do little to foster good relations between the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (JHOSC), NHS England and specifically those responsible for taking forward the new review.”

Committee members also criticised the fact that two decision-making bodies in new review do not hold their meetings in public.

The service at Leeds General Infirmary was threatened with closure after a previous national review designed to improve care recommended it should shut.

Earlier this year an independent panel ruled the process was “flawed” and NHS bosses then launched the new review. It is expected to propose new quality standards early next year.

Meanwhile NHS bosses revealed that a second phase of a review of care at the Leeds unit prompted by the temporary suspension of surgery earlier this year will be published next month.

Dr Damian Riley, NHS England’s acting medical director for the north, said they intended to release a report, which includes a review of deaths and an investigation of concerns raised by some families, in January.

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