Campaigners march on in fight over heart unit

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CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save children’s heart surgery in Leeds will stage a march through the city’s streets later this month.

Parents, patients, medical staff and MPs are encouraging people to join the “peaceful demonstration”, which will be held in Leeds city centre from noon on July 23.

The march, which will set off from Millennium Square, will end with speeches from MPs and charity representatives in a bid to rally support for the threatened unit.

The unit at Leeds General Infirmary was earmarked for closure after a national review of children’s heart surgery delivery.

The decision will leave Yorkshire without a dedicated unit, meaning parents would have to take their children to Newcastle or Liverpool for life-saving surgery.

Sharon Cheng, director of the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF), said: “The decision to close the unit is an outrage.

“Decision makers ignored the evidence put forward to keep children’s heart surgery in Leeds and we will continue to fight to have this decision overturned.

“This demonstration will be peaceful but we are determined to make our voices heard.

“Future generations will be affected by this decision and as birth rates are set to soar, we have to look to the future, so this region should not be disadvantaged.

“We are encouraging everyone to come out and support us in our fight to save life-saving surgery provision for the people of Yorkshire and beyond.”

MPs including Greg Mulholland have described the review which earmarked the LGI unit for closure as “deeply flawed”.

Mr Mulholland, MP for Leeds North West, said: “We have no confidence in the JCPCT’s [Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts] deeply flawed decision to close the Leeds heart unit and it is time their illogical recommendations were thrown out and questions asked as to how they could possibly have come to them, considering the evidence.”