MPs welcome Leeds children's heart surgery decision

POLITICIANS have welcomed the announcement that children's heart surgery is to continue in Leeds.

Yorkshire MPs and campaigners visited Downing Street in 2011 to lobby for the Leeds unit to stay open.

Yesterday NHS England announced that Leeds General Infirmary would be one of 10 hospitals nationally to continue to provide surgical services for patients with congenital heart problems, as long as new care standards are met.

The move looks set to bring to an end years of uncertainty over the future of the Leeds unit, which had previously been earmarked for closure.

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Campaigners argued that the service needed to stay in Yorkshire and the closure decision was overturned following a legal case.

That prompted the new review of heart surgery for children and adults across the country, which would see 10 services retained but three – in Leicester, Manchester and London – close.

Leeds MPs spoke of their relief that the LGI unit is to remain.

Pudsey Conservative MP Stuart Andrew praised campaigners, families and staff on Twitter and added: “Delighted the Children’s Heart Unit in Leeds has been secured.”

Greg Mulholland, Lib Dem MP for Leeds North West, said: “I want to pay tribute to the congenital heart team in Leeds who have worked very hard to ensure that all of NHS England’s standards are met, and that heart surgeries in Leeds can continue to happen as safely as possible.”

Hilary Benn, Labour MP for Leeds Central, tweeted: “Great news about the LGI’s success in securing the future of children’s heart surgery in Leeds.”

Their views were echoed by York Outer MP Julian Sturdy, who said: “It is fantastic that years of uncertainty are coming to an end and local campaigners from York will be delighted with the news.”

Michael Dugher, MP for Barnsley East and Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Heart Disease, added: “It is right that services should continue at the excellent facility at LGI and credit must be given to everyone who campaigned.”

Readers have also been sharing their delight through the Yorkshire Evening Post Facebook page.

Jo Allen said: “Such fantastic news. Well done to all who campaigned so faithfully.”

And there was special praise for retired Leeds heart surgeon Kevin Watterson, who was described as “amazing” by Alison Greenwood.