MPs support Leeds heart unit campaigners, amid “overwhelming outcry” against decision to close.

MPs who met at the Commons to show support for a renewed fight to save Leeds Chidren's Heart Unit. Pictured are: (L-R, seated) Jason McCartney MP, Martin Vickers MP, Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, Karl Milner, Director, External Affairs & Communication, Leeds Teaching Hospital's Trust, Sharon Cheng, Director of the charity, Jon Arnold, parent and Trustee, Stuart Andrew MP, Kevin Watterson, Surgeon, Cllr John Illingworth (Joint HOSC), Steven Courtney (Joint HOSC), Nigel Adams MP, Andrew Jones MP, (L-R, standing) David Ward MP, Baroness Thornton, Nic Dakin MP, Alec Shelbrooke MP, Kris Hopkins MP, Hilary Benn MP, Simon Reevell MP, Meg Munn MP, Michael Dugher MP and Julian Sturdy MP.
MPs who met at the Commons to show support for a renewed fight to save Leeds Chidren's Heart Unit. Pictured are: (L-R, seated) Jason McCartney MP, Martin Vickers MP, Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, Karl Milner, Director, External Affairs & Communication, Leeds Teaching Hospital's Trust, Sharon Cheng, Director of the charity, Jon Arnold, parent and Trustee, Stuart Andrew MP, Kevin Watterson, Surgeon, Cllr John Illingworth (Joint HOSC), Steven Courtney (Joint HOSC), Nigel Adams MP, Andrew Jones MP, (L-R, standing) David Ward MP, Baroness Thornton, Nic Dakin MP, Alec Shelbrooke MP, Kris Hopkins MP, Hilary Benn MP, Simon Reevell MP, Meg Munn MP, Michael Dugher MP and Julian Sturdy MP.
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THE fight for retained children’s heart surgery at Leeds goes on, as campaigners gain renewed support.

Over 30 peers and MPs from across Yorkshire, the Humber and North East Lincolnshire met with trustees from the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund at the House of Commons on Tuesday, to back the charity’s continued battle.

Representatives from the charity highlighted what they consider to be flaws and inaccuracies in the review, that concluded heart surgery should be stopped at Leeds General Infirmary, leaving Yorkshire, the Humber and North East Lincolnshire without a dedicated unit.

The meeting also outlined the charity’s plans for fighting the decision through the ministerial route.

Children’s Heart Surgery Fund director, Sharon Cheng, said: “We are extremely grateful to everyone for their time in what was a very productive meeting. The outcry from patients and parents has been overwhelming and we are glad that the MPs are listening to their constituents.”

She continued: “We believe the process and decision is fundamentally flawed. We are to keep fighting as we believe the case for Leeds has never been stronger.”

Last year over 600,000 people signed a petition supporting the children’s heart unit at the LGI, which provides life-saving surgery to hundreds of children each year. Over 14.2 million people live less than two hours drive time from the Unit, including over five million people in Yorkshire and The Humber. The campaign has cross party support.

Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey said of the proposed closure: “This will be a real blow to families across Yorkshire who rightly value the good work and care children receive at Leeds.

“I supported the arguments Leeds put forward so it is disappointing that the option chosen did not include keeping LGI as a specialist children’s heart surgery centre.

“Clinicians, campaigners, MPs, councillors in Yorkshire - not to mention the 600,000 members of the public who signed the petition, all presented a powerful case.

“I know concerns remain about the review process and I think the JCPCT have a number of questions to answer. The Leeds Children’s Heart Surgery Fund and local council leaders are looking at ways to appeal the decision and I will support them in any way I can.”

Rotherham councillors too have expressed their “bitter disappointment” at the decision.

Swinton Councillor Ken Wyatt, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing for Rotherham Borough Council, added that the decision was a “body-blow” to families who use the unit.

He said: “I am very concerned about the effect the decision will have on the health and well-being of vulnerable children in the Rotherham area. Surgery and treatment such as this has huge implications for whole families and the increased travelling to Newcastle will have a major impact both physically, and from a finance point of view as low-income families struggle to get their children to appointments.”

For more information on the fight for children’s heart services in Yorkshire and to find out how you can help visit www.chsf.org.uk