Re-opening of heart unit welcome, but questions need answering

John Healey has welcomed the announcement that children’s heart surgery at Leeds will re-start next week.

He had written to the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, urging him to step in following the sudden closure of the unit on 28 March.

Mr Healey said: “I am sure the news that the unit is to reopen will be a great relief to many families in our area, who will have been worried at the prospect of having to wait longer for surgery or travel many miles away to another hospital.

“The most important thing now is for families to be reassured that Leeds is safe and for surgery to be resumed as soon as possible.

“But after that questions will need to be answered.

“There is a great deal of distress, suspicion and concern from local people that the suspension was politics not proper process, coming just hours after the High Court’s ruling that the Safe and Sustainable review decision – that Leeds should close – was flawed.

“The mortality rates data which led to the closure does not seem to have been ready for release, or to have been a suitable basis for such an important decision.”

Mr Healey told Mr Hunt the disputed data should be scrutinised, the closure decision investigated and “everything possible done to see the children’s heart unit at Leeds re-opened as soon as possible.”