POLITICIANS are hailing an announcement which secures the future of the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit.

The unit has been given the official green light to stay open, in an update provided by NHS England.

NHSE has confirmed it is satisfied with the progress of the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust in meeting standards for congenital heart disease services introduced in 2016.

The news has been warmly welcomed by Children’s Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF), who were instrumental in keeping the Unit open in 2013 through the successful Save our Surgery campaign.

And it has delighted local politicians after years of uncertainty over the future of the service and the unit, which is the second largest congenital unit in the country.

Councillor Rebecca Charlwood, Executive Board Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adults on Leeds City Council said: "This is great news for Leeds and for all our residents. Councillors have been central to discussions about the future of our health services. Working closely with Cllr Mulherin as Children’s lead and with colleagues across the Council and the NHS, we have been fighting hard for services to remain in Leeds and in the public sector.

"With the recent announcement that we have won funding for a Mental Health Unit for Children and our success in securing more money for neighbourhood networks and other community services in the Better Care Fund it is clear that our strong local partnerships are delivering better services for Leeds despite the tough challenges we continue to face from austerity. We will continue to fight for the best deal for Leeds and for every penny of funding."

Alex Sobel, MP for Leeds North West said: "I am proud that the campaign led by our council, parents and local NHS have won their battle to retain the Congenital Heart Surgery Service. It is important that Leeds retains its reputation as a first-class healthcare provider and this is a very important step, especially given the cost cutting from national government. The dedication and commitment that Leeds City Council has shown to healthcare in the past few years has been remarkable and it is because of this that our local Health and Social care services remains some of the best in the country."

When the announcement was made last week Sharon Coyle, CEO of CHSF said: "We are thrilled to hear today’s news. Finally, the families of the Yorkshire and Humber region have certainty, and I’d like to thank all those who campaigned tirelessly to retain Yorkshire’s only Heart Unit.

"Without the ongoing support of our families, patients, community, MPs, councillors, corporate partners and the great Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire public, we wouldn’t be open today.

"We must now look to the future, our aim is to carry on supporting the Heart Unit in reaching the new standards set out by NHSE."

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust chief executive Julian Hartley said: "This news is very welcome - we are delighted that we can now confirm our ongoing status as a provider of this vital service.

"I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to our staff at the Leeds congenital heart surgery unit: they have continued to provide world-class treatment and care for our patients throughout.

"I’d also like to thank our supporters and advocates, particularly the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, who have helped us to reach this point."