Leeds child heart surgery decision ‘is closer’

Karen Middleton and son Liam Hey, two.
Karen Middleton and son Liam Hey, two.
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CAMPAIGNERS were expecting news today about the future of Leeds’s under-threat children’s heart surgery services.

A national review of all 11 hospitals which provide children’s cardiac surgery has been under way for over a year.

As revealed in the Yorkshire Evening Post in 2009, that put the unit at Leeds General Infirmary at risk.

Experts want fewer centres doing more operations as they say that will be safer for patients.

But they sparked an angry reaction from parents of sick children who said lives would be put at risk if they had to travel further afield.

Today a meeting in London was to decide on options for the reorganisation of children’s heart surgery services, which could involve some hospitals no longer providing them. Afterwards there will be a consultation before the final decision is made in summer.

However, parents say it is vital that surgery continues at the LGI, where it is in a purpose-built unit which is now part of the Leeds Children’s Hospital.

Karen Middleton, whose son Liam Hey was saved thanks to the hospital’s heart surgery experts, said the possibility of removing them from Leeds was “ridiculous”.

Liam was diagnosed with a potentially fatal rare heart condition aged six weeks and had open-heart surgery soon afterwards.

Now nearly two, he had a pacemaker fitted last year and has been in and out of hospital for treatment. He may need further surgery in the future.

Ms Middleton, of Tinshill, Leeds, said: “If they shut the Leeds unit we are snookered really. They are messing about with kids’ lives.

“Liam has got a complex condition. The surgeon knows what has been done with him.”

Hospital bosses said Leeds was in an ideal location and satisfaction rates were high, shown by the “vocal support” from families.

Dr Peter Belfield, medical director for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We firmly believe we have an excellent and well-established service with good clinical outcomes and an extremely committed team of doctors, nurses and other health professionals who serve children and families right across Yorkshire and the Humber.

“The facility is also well placed to expand to carry out more operations annually if required.

“We will, of course, be continuing our efforts to make the strongest possible case for the retention of this vital service in Leeds.”


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