‘Keep all kids’ heart units open’, Yorkshire politicians advise

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Councillors have urged NHS bosses to keep children’s heart surgery units at both Leeds and Newcastle open as part of a new national review.

But they warned that mistakes made during a previous shake-up were being repeated after crucial documents were not translated into a range of languages.

A committee of Yorkshire politicians were officially responding to a consultation over the new review, which is taking place after the previous one which put the Leeds unit under threat of closure was scrapped.

Coun Debra Coupar, chairman of the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (JHOSC), said the lack of translation was “one of the major flaws in the consultation and we are pointing it out. It’s up to them if they take any notice of us”.

Moves to streamline children’s heart surgery across the country began in 2009, as national experts decided care would be improved if fewer hospitals carried out the tricky procedures. However the plans proved controversial when it was recommended that several units close, including the one at Leeds General Infirmary.

Last year an independent panel concluded the original consultation was “flawed” and so the proposals were thrown out.

Now a new review looking at congenital heart surgery for children and adults is underway, with views about new proposed standards for care being collected by NHS England.

In their response, the JHOSC criticised the lack of translation of full consultation documents into languages other than Welsh which they said was concerning, as there are higher rates of heart disease in South Asian communities.

Councillors also maintained their view that “surgical centres in both Leeds and Newcastle should be retained” due to increasing numbers of patients.