Listen to the people, MP urges decision-makers over children’s heart unit

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AN MP has again added his weight to the campaign to retain the children’s heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary.

Michael Dugher, the MP for Barnsley East, has written to the Chairman of the NHS committee responsible for making decisions about the future of children’s heart services in England, and to Simon Burns MP, the Health Minister responsible, to keep up the pressure for the unit that families across the Dearne are desperate to retain.

Last year, Michael submitted a response to the consultation on the review of children’s heart services to press the case for keeping the vital service in Leeds as opposed to moving all services for children with congenital heart problems in Barnsley to Newcastle or Liverpool.

An analysis of the views of patients, doctors and the public in Yorkshire and the Humber has reinforced Michael’s case for keeping the service as it is, by finding that a majority of people in the area would not choose to travel to Newcastle for treatment.

Mr Dugher said: “Without the flow of patients from these populous areas of Yorkshire, Newcastle would not meet the annual minimum 400 surgical procedures deemed necessary for a safe and sustainable centre, let alone the optimal number of 500.

“I believe that this undermines the case for choosing Newcastle as the Specialist Surgical Centre and I am concerned that if it was chosen, it would soon prove unsafe and unsustainable. As a result, it could therefore have to close, leaving the region without any congenital cardiac surgical care whatsoever.”

He continued: “The NHS Constitution enshrines the right for patients to make choices about their NHS care.”