Heart unit axe review will be thorough, vows Minister

Thousands march through Leeds in July to protest at the closure
Thousands march through Leeds in July to protest at the closure
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A HEALTH Minister has assured MPs a new review of the decision to close Leeds children’s heart surgery unit will be thorough – but warned she cannot force decision-makers to release documents to Yorkshire councillors.

In a Parliamentary debate, MPs from across the region explained their dismay at the move to transfer services from Leeds General Infirmary to Newcastle, leaving youngsters in Yorkshire facing journeys of hundreds of miles for lifesaving operations.

Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland denounced the decision as a “stitch-up”, but Minister Anna Soubry said she could not respond to comments that the review had been biased, saying she had to remain impartial.

Last week Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt ordered the Independent Reconfiguration Panel to carry out a review of the decision to shut services at Leeds General Infirmary, Glenfield Hospital in Leicester and the Royal Brompton in London following concerns from councillors outside Yorkshire.

The region’s local politicians are due to submit their referral soon although they say they have struggled to get hold of information from decision-makers the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT).

Pudsey, Leeds MP Stuart Andrew, who called the debate, said the JCPCT was still not disclosing information and added that it was vital that all the arguments raised by MPs were considered.

“It’s crucial that the independent review gets this right,” he said.

“The issues we have been raising need to be assessed in great detail.”

Ms Soubry said: “Members can be assured they will carry out a full and independent review.”

Following the debate, Sir Neil McKay, chair of the JCPCT, said: “In making our decision we considered a vast amount of evidence and data, all of which is in the public domain.”