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MP Greg Mulholland accuses heart panel of having ‘clear bias’
An advisory panel looking into children’s heart surgery is being accused of “clear bias” by an MP who fought the closure of the Leeds unit.
Greg Mulholland, MP for Leeds North West, told Parliament that three of the four members of the advisory panel for the new review had previously supported the recommendations to close some heart units. Including the one at the LGI.
Earlier this year, the Safe and Sustainable review was suspended, and a new review of children’s heart surgery was announced by the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt.
But Mr Mulholland told MPs the same mistakes were already happening again – and he criticised the make-up of the new Clinical Reference Group.
He was particularly critical of the choice of Anne Keatly-Clarke, chief executive of the Children’s Heart Federation, who had previously publicly made statements supporting the closure of the Leeds Unit.
Speaking in Business Questions the MP asked for a statement, as a matter of urgency, from the Secretary of State about the composition of the review and the “clear bias on a supposedly impartial body.”
Mr Mulholland said: “The Independent Reconfiguration Panel exposed the discredited and biased Safe and Sustainable Review and the Secretary of State was right to dismiss it and to set up a new review. We were all assured that the lessons of the Safe and Sustainable fiasco – which was flawed, biased and secretive – would be learned and that the replacement review would be set up on the basis to ensure objectivity, fairness and transparency. Yet already there are already serious concerns that the same mistakes are happening again even as the new review is set up.
“It is extraordinary that with the backdrop of what happened with the previous review, one of the key bodies set up to advise the new review includes three people who have signed up to a predetermined view of reorganisation.
“Above all, it is appalling that one of the people on this new supposedly impartial body is Anne Keatley-Clarke, chief executive of the Children’s Heart Federation, whose ‘unhelpful divisiveness’ was criticised by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel.”
Julie Wootton, chairman of the Children’s Heart Federation, said: “We are surprised and disappointed by the comments made by Greg Mulholland MP about our charity.
“CHF’s focus has always been on ensuring the delivery of the best possible care for babies and children with heart disease across the UK and we have no other agenda at all.
“We hope that, with time and reflection, even those who disagree with us will accept that our interests are purely and simply what is best for children and parents.”
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