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Calls for Child Heart Units in Leeds and Newcastle to Stay Open

Heart - Leeds General Infirmary closure

5:20pm 8th March 2013

Heart surgery facilities for both children and adults should continue to be offered at hospitals in Newcastle and Leeds, and not “rationalised” along the lines proposed by the NHS, according to the chairman of North Yorkshire County Council’s Scrutiny of Health Committee.

The High Court on Thursday upheld a legal challenge against the process by which the NHS put forward a proposal to close the children’s cardiac unit at Leeds General Infirmary.  The Health Service says resources for the region should be centred on Newcastle and Liverpool.

But Councillor Jim Clark, the chairman of North Yorkshire’s Scrutiny of Health Committee, said it was important not to lose sight of the fact that the legal ruling concerned the process, and not the proposal itself.

“I welcome the judgement from the High Court, but it is still vital that we continue to lobby to keep both Newcastle and Leeds,” he said.

“The cardiac unit at Leeds General Infirmary serves a very large geographic area, and it is totally unreasonable to expect people to travel three hours or more to get the kind of cardiac care to which they are entitled.

“A similar review is also scheduled for adult cardiac services, and again our case is that Leeds is a vital centre for the people of North Yorkshire.”

He added: “We have said to the Secretary of State for Health that neither Leeds nor Newcastle is broken, and neither needs fixing.  The retention of both is essential to ensure that patient care continues to be delivered in the most effective way possible.”

A decision by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel – to which Councillor Clark gave evidence earlier this year – is expected at the end of March.


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