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‘Disgraceful’ publication of hospital plans
A Wharfedale MP has condemned the ‘disgraceful’ publication of an implementation plan for a shake-up that would shut the children’s heart surgery unit in Leeds.
Leeds General Infirmary’s paedia-tric heart unit was one of three recommended for closure following a three-year nationwide review condu-cted by the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts, which reached its conclusion on July 4.
But that decision, which sparked a massive public outcry, has been referred to the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley.
MP Greg Mulholland (Lib Dem, Leeds North West) says that means the announcement this week of how the NHS plans to implement the changes is premature and smacks of a fait accompli.
He added: “The decision to close the excellent Leeds Children’s Heart Unit is deeply regrettable – there has been a real lack of confidence in the whole process.
“It is absolutely outrageous the committee’s recommendations look set to be implemented, despite serious concerns remaining and the fact the decision has now been referred to the Secretary of State by the Yorkshire and Humber Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
“The implementation of these recommendations must now be brought to an immediate halt until the Secretary of State has had the opportunity to look over the decision and consider the very serious concerns with the way in which the review has been carried out.
“The implementation must not progress at all now that referral has been made. They appear to be attem-pting to try to make a flawed decision a fait accompli, which is disgraceful.”
Otley cafe owners Erkan and Lisa Can, whose four-year-old son Emre owes his life to the Leeds unit, are one of many local families hoping Andrew Lansley will overturn the recommendations.
They said closing the life-saving facility was “absolutely crazy”, and would see local families having to make stressful trips with their sick children to Newcastle.
In its announcement this week, the NHS’s Safe and Sustainable team said it was “now in the process of planning for the final implementation of the decision made on July 4”.
It went on to describe exactly how it plans to set up seven new congen-ital heart networks across England and Wales by 2014.
Implementation Advisory Group chairman Professor Deirdre Kelly said: “In the next two years, the NHS will be expanding heart services for children, developing robust networks and setting new care standards, ensuring they meet the needs of families and children.
“Implementing the decision on the future of children’s heart services is a top priority, and we need the work to start now so children can benefit during 2014.”