Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Experts examine heart hospital data

Children's cardiac surgery at Leeds General Infirmary was halted last Thursday

Experts examining data and procedures at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) are working through the weekend to ensure they can provide the endorsements needed for children's heart surgery to resume at the hospital.

Operations were suspended at the LGI more than a week ago after concerns were raised about death rates and other issues - a decision greeted with anger and shock by campaigners fighting to keep the children's heart unit open.

The Leeds centre has been earmarked for permanent closure following a nationwide review of children's cardiac services in England.

But the campaign group organised to fight this decision won a major victory in the High Court just a day before NHS England arrived in the city with concerns about the unit which forced the suspension of surgery.

On Friday, after a week of controversy, arguments and high-level meetings, an announcement was made that operation could be resumed early next week "subject to independent validation of the clinical data and an external review of clinical governance processes".

This news has been welcomed by local MPs and many parents of children who have been treated by the LGI unit.

Greg Mulholland, Liberal Democrat MP for Leeds North West, called on Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to launch a review into what happened in the last week-and-a-half.

Mr Mulholland said there had still been no proper explanation as to why the unit was closed and demanded those responsible were held to account.

He said: "Obviously there are questions that need to be answered and that's why I've called for an investigation by the Secretary of State for Health, who now needs to step in. I think the whole thing has been handled shambolically."

Stuart Andrew, Conservative MP for Pudsey, Horsforth and Aireborough, said he hoped the parliamentary Health Select Committee would look at "whether or not the right processes were made".

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