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York MP Calls for Delay in Decision to Close Yorkshire Childrens' Heart Unit

Julian Sturdy

6:00am 16th January 2013

Julian Sturdy, the Member of Parliament for York Outer, has written to the panel deciding on the future of the Leeds Children’s Heart Surgery Unit to urge them to keep it open.

In July last year, the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts opted to close the Leeds unit and allow the Newcastle unit to be the sole provider of treatment in the North of England. Following protests from the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund and a number of MPs from across the region, including Mr Sturdy, the government referred the decision to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel for review.

In his letter to the panel, Mr Sturdy raised the concerns of many of his constituents over the implications any closure of the Leeds unit would have on them. Mr Sturdy wrote that he believed the decision would leave families and patients across Yorkshire with a worse service than they have at present. He outlined the benefits of the Leeds unit’s relatively close proximity to his constituents in York Outer and the implications the closure of the unit would have on patient choice.

Mr Sturdy advised the panel that he believed the optimum solution would be to allow both Leeds and Newcastle to retain surgical services and delay the decision over their future until April 2014. By then, Mr Sturdy believes both units will have had sufficient opportunity to demonstrate that they meet the criteria required to stay open.

On his letter, Mr Sturdy said:

“I support the principle of fewer units with greater expertise but I wholly disagree with the decision to close the Leeds Children’s Heart Surgery Unit. At present, Leeds serves a much greater population than other units which are to be kept open and the population in our region is forecast to grow considerably.”

“Having a Children’s Heart Surgery Unit so close means that my constituents are easily able to visit family members who are receiving treatment in a fantastic unit, with an exceptional nursing staff. I will do everything in my power to ensure that this will continue. I would encourage all those who feel the same to write to the panel and make their views heard.”

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