YP Letters: Campaigning pays off for future of heart unit

Protesters took to the streets in 2011 to save children's heart surgery in Leeds.
Protesters took to the streets in 2011 to save children's heart surgery in Leeds.
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From: Coun Judith Blake (Lab), Leader, Leeds City Council.

FIRST and foremost, what fantastic news for patients in Leeds and the wider region that the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit is to remain open.

Confirmation the NHS has found the service meets new standards introduced last year is vindication for parents and campaigners who, for many years, made the powerful case for services to remain in Leeds.

The original decision by Government to close the unit back in 2011 was clearly flawed. It took more than 100,000 petition signatures and an unbelievable effort from parents and campaigners to get that decision reversed.

As a council, we were clear from the outset the decision to close Leeds would be damaging to patients and I’d like to pay particular tribute to Coun John Illingworth for the many hours he dedicated to questioning and challenging the Government’s original decision.

The hard work of campaigners and parents provides certainty for families in Leeds and across Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire.

With continuing government austerity starving the NHS of the essential funding, the news for heart surgery in Leeds is a rare but much welcome boost for patients and their families.