Concerns over heart plans after A1 flooding

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FLOODING on the A1 has sparked concerns from campaigners fighting to keep children’s heart surgery in Leeds.

Supporters of the Leeds General Infirmary unit say the problems near Catterick mean lives could be in danger if plans to transfer services to Newcastle go ahead.

They spoke as Yorkshire councillors submitted their report to the Health Secretary calling for a review of the controversial decision, which is now taking place.

Leeds councillor John Illingworth said the changes would “offer substantially worse services to children and families across Yorkshire and the Humber”.

Sharon Cheng from campaign group Save Our Surgery, said: “It is a real concern for parents that for the second time in two months the North East roads have flooded.”

Victoria Helliwell from Sheffield, whose three-week-old daughter Isabella had heart surgery at LGI, said: “Having the unit in Leeds meant that Isabella could be transferred quickly as it was only 40 minutes’ drive in the ambulance via good road links.”

Dr Ian Jenkins, immediate past president of the Paediatric Intensive Care Society, said bad weather did not prevent these children from receiving expert care.

“In the future, in an emergency, a child with heart disease from Yorkshire will continue to be ‘retrieved’ or collected by a highly specialist team based in Barnsley.

“The goal is not for a child to reach a surgical centre in the shortest possible time but rather that the specialist team gets to these children, stabilises them with their expertise and takes them where needed in a controlled fashion using specially configured transport vehicles or aircraft.”

The Government has ordered an independent review into the decision while Leeds campaigners are also planning legal action.

Fundraising is under way through a Wear It Red day on December 7. Join via www.saveoursurgery.net.