Heart unit step closer to being saved?

New activity maze at Farmer Copley.'Robert and Heather Copley
New activity maze at Farmer Copley.'Robert and Heather Copley

CAMPAIGNERS across the Five Towns have renewed their fight to save children’s heart surgery in Leeds after closure plans were delayed by a health watchdog on Tuesday.

The decision to stop children’s heart surgery in Leeds was referred by the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee for Yorkshire at a public meeting this week to the Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley.

Ackworth mum Anne-Marie Sheard, 40, whose four-year-old son Isaac has atrioventricular septal defect and will need open heart surgery, said the decision was a “major step” in saving the unit at Leeds General Infirmary from the axe.

Mrs Sheard, of Moor Top, added: “We were all really happy to get what we needed from the meeting but we’re a little bit apprehensive about the next few months.

“It’s exciting but there’s still a long way to go. After the decision was announced some of the parents said ‘leave it’, but you can’t, when it’s your child’s life, you’re going to fight for what’s right.”

National body Joint Committee for Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) decided on July 4 to close the unit in favour of having fewer, larger sites across the country.

The announcement means families across the region will have to travel to Newcastle, Liverpool, or Birmingham for surgery.

At the meeting on Tuesday, Sir Neil McKay, who led the inquiry into children’s heart surgery, told the Yorkshire watchdog that the inquiry’s conclusion was correct and that all concerns had been listened to.

He said: “There was always going to be disappointment, always likely to be children and their families having to travel further than existing centres.”

But the committee, which represents councils across Yorkshire, said the decision to refer the matter had been unanimous.