Leeds & West Yorkshire

Future secured for child heart surgery unit in Leeds

Leeds General Infirmary sign Image copyright PA
Image caption The announcement by NHS England is the end of years of uncertainty for families and campaigners in Yorkshire

The future of Yorkshire's only child heart surgery unit has been secured following a long-running dispute about how surgery is provided in England.

NHS bosses have said the unit will be one of 10 hospitals nationally that can continue to provide congenital heart surgery for children and adults.

The Leeds General Infirmary unit first came under threat in 2011, prompting a huge campaign to keep it open.

City council leader Judith Blake said the news ended a long period of doubt.

Congenital heart disease services have been the subject of a number of reviews since a public inquiry at Bristol Royal Infirmary in 2001.

In 2011, the children's heart surgery unit in Leeds was earmarked for closure in an NHS review that was eventually declared flawed.

Image caption Units in Leicester, Manchester and London which provide complex heart care have been ordered to stop doing so amid concerns over standards

It was back under the spotlight in 2013 when surgery was suspended amid concerns about death rates. Later, an investigation found the decision was based on "invalidated and incomplete data".

Last year NHS England published updated standards for specialist heart care and has since been assessing which hospitals are meeting the new criteria.

'Outstanding job'

It has now announced which trusts are not meeting the standards and which need to close services and transfer care elsewhere.

Units in in Leicester, Manchester and London have been told to halt complex surgery on patients born with heart problems by April 2017.

Five other hospitals providing treatments other than complex surgery will have to stop those services too.

NHS England said it would continue to support and monitor progress at Leeds' hospital trust.

Julian Hartley, chief executive of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, praised congenital heart disease staff who he said had done an "outstanding job" in complying with the "rigorous new national standards".

Sharon Coyle, chief executive of Leeds Children's Heart Surgery Fund, tweeted: "Delighted for Leeds heart unit, my thoughts are with Leicester patients and the Brompton."

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