Poll finds heart nurses will not move

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a SURVEY of 50 nurses providing vital care to youngsters undergoing heart surgery in Yorkshire has found 98 per cent would not move to another unit if the threat to close it goes ahead.

Health chiefs have agreed to bring to a halt children’s heart operations at Leeds General Infirmary as part of a national reconfiguration designed to improve standards.

Instead the bulk of hundreds of children from the region each year who need life-saving treatment will face journeying up to three hours to Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.

The survey of 50 nurses on the paediatric cardio-thoracic ward and children’s cardiac intensive care unit at the infirmary found 98 per cent would not move to another centre due to family commitments, financial constraints and travel distances involved.

The nursing staff on the ward, from sisters to play therapists, make up a team with a combined experience totalling 467 years.

Sharon Cheng, director of the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund charity which is campaigning against the closure, said: “We’re fully committed to saving children’s heart surgery in Leeds as we believe the decision to end it is flawed.

“Nurses and parents alike have expressed their concern at the decision and have questioned the future of their jobs or surgery at the unit. We are working with them to ensure everyone is kept informed on the latest activity and assure everyone that we will do everything we can to reverse the decision.”

A final decision over the fate of the centre is likely to rest with the new Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt after councillors in the region agreed to refer the closure decision to the Government.

MPs have joined campaigners in expressing their outrage over the decision and are expected to re-double efforts to lobby the Government following Prime Minister David Cameron’s reshuffle which saw an entirely new team of Ministers put in place at the Department of Health.