Otley MP's doubts over heart unit decision

Wharfedale Observer: Greg Mulholland MP Greg Mulholland MP

The decision to close Leeds Children’s Heart Unit has been described as a “stitch up” by one campaigning MP.

The claim was made by Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland (pictured) during a Westminster Hall debate in which he criticised the “deeply flawed” decision.

Mr Mulholland said there was a clear bias towards Newcastle, and he believes the Leeds unit had been sacrificed in order to ensure Newcastle reached the 400 procedure minimum, as recommended for a safe and sustainable unit.

He also argued one standard has been set for children in Scotland and another for children in Yorkshire.

The MP said: “I am pleased the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, has now decided to order a review into the decision to close the Leeds children’s heart unit.

“It has become clearer and clearer since the decision was made to close the Leeds unit that these recommendations are deeply flawed and must be rejected. They impact on so many staff, patients and families, and they deserve full and proper scrutiny of any proposals.

“I hope this review will see the illogical recommendations thrown out, and questions asked as to how they could possibly have come to them, considering the evidence.”

Mr Mulholland added: “The double standards that have now come to light in relation to what the Scottish government considers to be a safe and sustainable unit – three surgeons completing 300 procedures – flies in the face of the Safe and Sustainable Review, which considers four surgeons and 400 procedures to be the minimum. There appear to be certain standards for Scottish children and different standards for those in Yorkshire.

“It is clear that from the start the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts set out to justify a proposal that involved keeping the Newcastle unit, come what may, despite the serious doubts as to whether it can achieve the required 400 operations and the considerably smaller population served.

“Let’s be clear here, we do not want to see the Newcastle unit close either and, indeed, hope a solution can be found that ensures both units can remain open. Either way, the whole basis of this review, which is to create bigger, safer units, must include Leeds.”

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