Westminster decision due on heart ops

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Health secretary Jeremy Hunt was due to announce his decision on the future of children’s heart surgery at Leeds General Infirmary yesterday.

Mr Hunt ordered a review last October of the decision to end surgery at LGI, along with two other hospitals, as part of a national review of children’s heart services.

A campaign by Save Our Surgery saw the decision quashed by a High Court judge earlier this year, but the next day NHS England suspended surgery amid claims over safety at LGI.

Surgery was allowed to resume following a review, with anger that flawed data had been used to justify the suspension, in an increasingly acrimonious dispute.

If surgery ends at Leeds, families from across the district would face travelling to Newcastle or Liverpool for treatment, which has left thousands of parents outraged.

Mr Hunt asked the Independent Reconfiguration Panel to assess the decision to stop surgery in Leeds, announced last summer.

It has reviewed the whole process for picking the seven hospitals. Evidence was gathered from local councils, NHS trusts, parents, MPs and clinicians at all ten sites.

Mr Hunt told the House of Commons he “will not duck” tough decisions on service changes.

However, under questioning from Yorkshire MPs, he said: “I have full confidence in children’s heart surgery at Leeds. I know that the Leeds unit does an excellent job.

“I can reassure families in Yorkshire, and throughout the country, that where there are safety concerns, we will take them very seriously indeed and investigate them promptly.

“Where there are difficult reconfiguration debates to be had, we will not duck them.

“In all cases the interests of patients must be our primary concern.”