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Campaigning’s new hope
News of a review into the proposed closure of a life-saving hospital centre has given renewed hope to the campaigning mother of a four-year-old Ilkley girl with a congenital heart defect.
Naomi Wilkinson believes the new review ordered by Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, offers a glimmer of hope to campaigners fighting to save the Leeds General Infirmary heart unit from closure.
Mrs Wilkinson feared her family might be forced to leave their home and move miles away to be closer to another hospital to continue essential treatment for her brave little daughter, Olivia.
NHS bosses recommended closing three hospital units earlier this year, but LGI could win a last-minute reprieve if the Independent Reconfiguration Panel rejects the original decision.
Mrs Wilkinson said: “It’s the right thing to happen.
“There’s certainly a bit of hope, which wasn’t there in July when the decision was announced.”
Mrs Wilkinson and fellow Save our Surgery Campaign members filed for a judicial review when the closure was revealed, but the IRP has been asked to report its findings by February 28.
She says the group needed to know all options for the future of the Leeds unit had been explored.
Mrs Wilkinson added: “Ultimately, we’re not just doing it for ourselves, and for my own child, it’s for everybody else who can access LGI – we’re doing it for them all.”
Olivia, who recently started school in Ilkley, underwent 18 hours of surgery at Leeds General Infirmary just hours after she was born, and she still needs to make periodic visits to the Leeds unit.
“We were at the clinic two weeks ago and they say she’s absolutely fantastic,” said a relieved Mrs Wilkinson.
MPs from across Yorkshire also spoke out in a Parliamentary debate this week in favour of the campaign to save the Leeds unit.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Burley-in-Wharfedale and Menston’s Conservative MP, Philip Davies, said: “The people in York-shire have confidence in the unit, want it to continue and believe it will offer the best possible treatment. Should that not be the most important factors the Government bears in mind?”
And fellow Tory MP Stuart Andrew, who represents Aire-borough and Horsforth, stressed the need for the independent review to get its decision right.
He said: “My grave concern is the review will fail to meet the objectives, particularly in the North of England, subjecting my constituents to a worse service than they currently enjoy.”
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