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MP hits back at criticism of his heart unit plea
A children’s charity boss has been criticised by an MP after comments about the future of Yorkshire’s only children’s heart surgery unit.
Greg Mulholland said Anne Keatley-Clarke’s words were “arrogant and insensitive” after the chief executive of the Children’s Heart Foundation said there should not be any more delays to proposed changes, which would see the end of children’s heart surgery at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI).
The Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts, led by chairman Sir Neil McKay, recommended in July the ending of children’s heart surgery at LGI after a three-year nationwide review.
The decision caused uproar among campaigners and families across Yorkshire anxious to keep the unit open, and has been referred to the new Health Secretary, Simon Burns, for the final say. Mr Mulholland and Pudsey MP Stuart Andrew will meet with Mr Burns to argue their case next week.
Mrs Keatley-Clarke, responding to a call from Mr Mulholland – MP for Leeds North West – for the whole process to be halted for detailed scrutiny, said any delays would cause “further uncertainty and distress” for parents across the country.
The comments have incensed Mr Mulholland, who has been campaigning to keep the unit fully open.
He said: “To say the concerns should be ignored suggests they are trying to stop proper public scrutiny, which is disturbing for a registered charity.
“Parents and campaigners, 600,000 of whom have signed a petition against the closure of the Leeds unit, are under-standably outraged by these comments, which are basically saying ‘shut up and accept the closure of your local unit that your children have relied on’.
“To say such an arrogant and insensitive thing is quite disgraceful, and brings her charity into disrepute.
“I would have liked to have seen her make those comments to the rally in Leeds, attended by several thousand people, telling them they are all wrong and should stop campaigning.”