Health chiefs should apologise for delays over a closure of a children’s heart unit as a key report looks set to finally emerge.
Patients and staff at Leeds Children’s Heart Unit will learn what was behind a decision to temporary close the unit on October 28 as the NHS publishes a delayed look at the state of services.
After months of tension over an earlier recommendation to axe the Leeds unit, health minister George Freeman has now said he thinks there is no threat of closure in the near future, telling MPs: “I can say that there is no immediate threat to any congenital heart surgery unit.”
He was speaking after Greg Mulholland told parliament it was time for an apology.
“The reality is that NHS England has made a mess of this. I hope that it will finally apologise when the third stage of the review is published, “ he said.
The Leeds MP later added: “We need a clear statement from ministers that the process on setting standards of care for congenital heart disease patients and then the process of deciding the future of heart units in England and Wales will this time be a clear and fair process. This is in stark contrast with the disastrous Safe and Sustainable review decision making process. It has now taken too long to get to this stage of the review; it is important to see it done openly, transparently and we must be given this assurance. We all want to see the whole process concluded so Leeds heart surgery unit can concentrate on looking forward to the future and continue its life-saving work.” Mr Freeman said: “I have made inquiries to ensure that the process is being followed as it should be. As I say, there is no immediate threat.
He added: “The issues around the provision of congenital heart disease services are not limited to Leeds.
“NHS England is conducting a nationwide review of congenital heart services.”