Lincolnshire parents fight Leeds children heart surgery halt

Parents in North East Lincolnshire have stepped up a campaign to fight a decision by NHS bosses to end children's heart surgery in Leeds.

An official review concluded Leeds General Infirmary should stop surgery so care could be concentrated at fewer, larger sites to improve standards.

Children will instead have to travel to Newcastle or Liverpool for surgery.

About 50 parents in Grimsby met council leader Chris Shaw, MP Martin Vickers and six councillors on Saturday.

Joanne Rilatt, from Grimsby, whose seven-year-old boy was treated at the unit, organised the meeting to "get people on board" to fight the decision.

"Without that service a lot of children will suffer," she said. "We need a way forward now."

Campaigners were planning to lobby Health Secretary Andrew Lansley in London, Ms Rilatt said.

'Fight fund''

"We're a neglected region and they're overlooking the impact of this [closure] on families here," she said.

A £10,000 campaign fund has been set up with North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire councils donating £5,000 each, Conservative MP for Cleethorpes Martin Vickers said.

"We need hard evidence to argue the case to keep the unit open and this fund could resource an expert witness who can compile this evidence," he said.

"We'll be campaigning to the bitter end."

Mr Vickers said both councils were "fully onboard" with the campaign and have supported Leeds City Council's appeal to the secretary of state for health.

Council leaders at York, Kirklees, Wakefield, Bradford and Calderdale have also backed Leeds City Council.

MPs of all parties in the region have been calling for the government to rethink the move.

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