MP calls for apology over Leeds heart unit

South Yorkshire MP John Healey has called on the Health Secretary to apologise over the review of children’s heart surgery units which recommended Leeds should close.

It came after Jeremy Hunt made a statement to Parliament yesterday on the Safe and Sustainable review of children’s heart services.

In July 2012 the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts decided the unit at Leeds should close.

The decision has since been reviewed by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP).

Mr Hunt said the IRP’s report concluded the Safe and Sustainable review outcome was “based on a flawed analysis of the impact of incomplete proposals and leaves too many questions about sustainability and implementation” and added that this was a “serious criticism.”

He announced the review was being suspended but said “this is not a mandate for the status quo.”

Speaking in the Commons yesterday, Mr Healey said: “What a waste of everybody’s time. Why should anyone believe that the new review process will be better than the last one or that the Secretary of State will make decisions at the end of it?

“Will he apologise now to the parents, the families and the staff for allowing this flawed and failing process to go on for so long and for the anguish that they have suffered during it?”

In a debate on the same subject a day earlier, the Dearne MP said: “The Leeds unit had been subject to greater scrutiny than any other unit, and the decisions in its case have been more seriously flawed than in the case of any other unit.

“What guarantee can the Secretary of State give those families across Yorkshire who depend on this major, life-changing surgery that the unit will not simply be removed from our county and put beyond their reach, taking away this vital service for them and their families?”

Speaking afterwards, Mr Healey said: “The result is welcome, but ministers have not removed the threat of the axe.

“I pay tribute to the families and staff who have campaigned tirelessly to keep the unit they value so highly.

“It is vital the new review is based on a level playing field and the decision is one the public can have confidence in.”