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Heart surgery unit is ‘safe’

Ann-Marie Sheard and her son Isaac from Ackworth. Celebrating the news that the children's heart unit in Leeds has been deemed safe.
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Ann-Marie Sheard and her son Isaac from Ackworth. Celebrating the news that the children's heart unit in Leeds has been deemed safe. p312a411

A mum has spoken of her relief after Leeds General Infirmary’s children’s heart surgery unit – where her son was treated – was deemed ‘safe.’

Ann-Marie Sheard said the unit, where six-year-old Isaac had surgery last year to repair a hole in his heart, offers a lifeline to families across the region.

Surgery at the unit was suspendedfor two weeks last March, partly because of concerns over high mortality rates, but an initial review showed this to be inaccurate and a year-long review by NHS England, published last week, concluded the unit ‘does not have excessive mortality.’

Mrs Sheard, 42, of Moor Top Avenue, Ackworth, said: “The review just confirms what we knew and have said all along. It’s so frustrating it was even needed.

“The staff are all so dedicated and fantastic at what they do. In my mind it was nothing more than scare mongering.”

Isaac had surgery at the unit last February – just weeks before it closed.

Mrs Sheard added: “It was stressful enough after Isaac’s operation.

“Our nearest centre would have been Newcastle or Birmingham and they don’t really know Isaac like the staff at Leeds do.

“The people who caused this review ought to walk a mile in our shoes.”

Despite deeming the unit ‘safe’, the review also found some families had received poor care at the unit .

The report highlighted a “tragic lack of communication, compassion and sometimes basic kindness”.

Dr Mike Bewick, NHS England deputy medical director, said: “I am happy to say, on the basis of the evidence that we currently have, that services in Leeds are safe and running well.”

 

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