Leeds Save Our Surgery Campaign: Row as heart panel miss Leeds meeting

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Yorkshire councillors have accused children’s heart surgery decision-makers of treating them with “contempt”.

As previously reported in the YEP, a regional committee discussing the threat to children’s heart surgery in Leeds invited a national body to a meeting yesterday. (August 2)

However, neither Sir Neil McKay, chairman of the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT), which will make the final decision, nor any representative attended.

Leeds councillor Lisa Mulherin (Lab, Ardsley & Robin Hood), chairman of the committee of Yorkshire councillors which is drawing up a response to the proposals, said: “That is treating the democratic process with disrespect and contempt and we will be making those views loud and clear both to the JCPCT and to the secretary of state.”

The number of hospitals offering children’s heart surgery is to be cut and the unit at Leeds General Infirmary is under serious threat. A final decision is due in November and a public consultation has already taken place, but council committees have until October to respond.

Coun Betty Rhodes, representing Wakefield, said: “Very disappointing is an understatement in terms of my feelings about how we would have wanted this process conducted.”

Criticism was also made over a report assessing which hospitals patients would choose to go to, as the information will not be available for several weeks.

Coun Mulherin said: “I think it’s absolutely unacceptable that this will be unavailable to us today.”

Councillors also heard other information about the impact of losing children’s heart surgery, including on transfer times for sick youngsters.

Following the meeting, Jeremy Glyde, director of the Safe and Sustainable review, said local specialised commissioning groups (SCGs) had agreed that they were best placed to engage with council committees. Cathy Edwards, director of the Yorkshire and the Humber SCG, was at yesterday’s meeting.

On the report about patient flows, he said: “No decisions will be made until full consideration has been given to families’ travel patterns and the outcomes will be shared with overview and scrutiny committees (OSC) in October. This cannot be made available before the deadline for OSC submissions.”

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