Leeds child heart surgery documents released

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A HEALTH chief who resigned after sparking controversy by saying he would not send his child for heart surgery in Leeds complained he had been “tried in his absence”.

Professor Sir Roger Boyle’s comments were revealed among hundreds of newly-published emails about the controversial suspension of surgery at the children’s heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary.

More than 450 pages of messages from NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh over the temporary halt in operations 
earlier this year have been released.

They have been heavily censored, but a number document the row over former heart tsar Sir Roger saying he would not have his child treated at Leeds – after care had been deemed safe and surgery had restarted.

That prompts “surprise, incredulity and disappointment” in emails from other leading doctors.

Sir Roger, who had been part of the controversial Safe and Sustainable review of paediatric heart surgery provision, was also accused of involvement in the release of mortality data about the Leeds unit, which led to the suspension of surgery and were later proved wrong, and afterwards resigned from the institute which had been drawing up the figures.

The newly-released correspondence includes a letter from Sir Roger denying he leaked data but saying he did not want to jeopardise the workings of the National Institute for Cardiovascular Outcomes Research (NICOR) so would resign.

The letter adds: “I feel that I have been tried in my absence and that the media have ruled the roost here. Nevertheless I have resolved to quit and that will, of course, be welcomed in some quarters.”

The emails also show more details of the concerns which led to the suspension of child heart surgery at the unit, which was already under threat because of the Safe and Sustainable review, on March 28.

Sir Bruce says he received calls from two surgeons within 24 hours over their fears, and doctors from Newcastle also had 14 cases involving criticism of care in Leeds.

Leeds councillor John Illingworth obtained the documents under the Freedom of Information Act. But campaigner Stuart Long, from Leeds, who had also requested the emails, said he would appeal over the number which have been withheld by NHS England.