Step in over heart surgery scandal, MP tells Cameron

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PRIME Minister David Cameron is being urged to step in over the death rates scandal which has engulfed children’s heart surgery in Yorkshire following calls for operations to be re-instated immediately.

The decision to suspend children’s congenital heart surgery at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) last week over concerns death rates were double the national average has prompted widespread condemnation, with consultants calling into question the validity of the data.

MPs have warned the scandal is undermining the public’s confidence in the NHS as it faces up to the biggest overhaul in its history from today.

The Labour MP for Leeds North East, Fabian Hamilton, told the Yorkshire Post he will write to Mr Cameron and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in a bid to end the uncertainty and re-instate children’s heart surgery.

A meeting between the unit’s clinicians, NHS cardiology specialists and the hospital is due to take place tomorrow.

Mr Hamilton stressed the fight to save the specialist unit has attracted support from across the political spectrum, and he will be seeking signatures from the Tory MP for Pudsey, Stuart Andrew, and the Liberal Democrat MP for Leeds North West, Greg Mulholland.

He said: “I do believe heart surgery should be re-instated immediately, and it is unbelievable a decision has been made on the back of data which is being called into question. The scandal comes at a time when the NHS is facing up to huge challenges with the reforms, and people’s confidence is undoubtedly being affected by what has happened.”

Campaigners have criticised the suspension of surgery and its timing just a day after a High Court judge ruled the decision-making process to close the children’s unit was “legally flawed”.

Mr Mulholland has spoken to the Health Secretary to urge him to intervene, and called for the resignations of senior figures including the medical director of NHS England, Sir Bruce Keogh.

“There is a fundamental lack of confidence now in senior figures and their positions are untenable,” he said.

Mr Andrew stressed the priority should be the young patients and their families, and added: “The public needs to have confidence over the decision to suspend surgery, and there has to be greater transparency.”