Wharfedale MP calls for apology over Leeds Children’s Heart Surgery Unit

A young boy helps protest against closure of the Leeds children’s heart surgery unit in July 2012

A young boy helps protest against closure of the Leeds children’s heart surgery unit in July 2012

First published in News Ilkley Gazette: Photograph of the Author by

A local MP has welcomed an NHS England report which confirms Leeds Children’s Heart Surgery Unit is safe.

The review, commissioned after operations were suspended for two weeks at the unit last March, has concluded that the unit at Leeds General Infirmary does not have an excessive mortality rate.

Operations at the LGI unit were suspended for more than a week last year after NHS England raised concerns about data on death rates at the centre. The move provoked huge anger and debate, especially as parents and clinicians from the unit linked it to the ongoing controversy about which children’s heart surgery units were to be closed as part of a nationwide rationalisation of the service.

Greg Mulholland, MP for Leeds North West, said: “The review has confirmed that the Leeds Children's Heart Unit is safe and was safe all along, which confirms that NHS England were wrong to suspend surgery there last year.

“It is time for Sir Bruce Keogh to have the courage to admit this and to apologise.

“Apart from the turmoil that his decision caused for the medical staff and the families of children awaiting surgery, the fact remains that stopping surgery at a safe unit, as it was and is, puts children at greater risk.

“It is also important that each and every complaint in any area of the NHS must be listened to and dealt with and as an MP I have and will continue to support people who feel they have not had adequate care.

“This is a different matter from the issue of safety, however, and NHS England must have and stick to a clear criteria for stopping surgery in any hospital and a proper process for doing so. In this case, they failed on both counts and made a knee jerk decision based on unverified, and as we discovered incomplete, data.

“NHS England must therefore review how and why they got it wrong in Leeds and how they can learn lessons to ensure they don't do so again elsewhere.

“Now this review has been published, I hope the Leeds Children's Heart Unit can get on with its life saving work and, as with all parts of the NHS, continue to strive to ensure that all patients feel they are getting the best care possible.

“The surgery and the unit can now operate with the endorsement of NHS England and the Department for Health and the confidence that everyone knows it is safe and sustainable.”

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