Dismay at handling of hospital decision

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CAMPAIGNERS battling to retain children’s heart operations in Yorkshire say they have been inundated by calls from anxious parents worried about the suspension of surgery over concerns about safety.

Sharon Cheng, of Save Our Surgery, criticised the handling of the decision to call a halt to surgery at Leeds General Infirmary following the intervention of the NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh and the Care Quality Commission.

She said the short-notice closure had left families “reeling” and they were in the dark about what alternative provision was being put in place pending the outcome of investigations.

She said the group was not aware of any problems at the Leeds unit with death rates.

“The thing that concerns us is the way this has been handled and that our families have been frightened to death by this,” she said. “Suspending a service needs to be handled properly and this has just been unacceptable.

“We want to see the data and see what is being talked about and take things from there. Until that happens we don’t really know what is going on.”

Hospital officials say those directly affected by the decision to suspend surgery are being contacted directly.

It is understood there is no spare capacity at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital to carry out additional operations on patients from Yorkshire and the bulk of those needing emergency surgery or scheduled for operations will be transferred to Birmingham.