Leeds Children’s Heart Surgery To Restart

8 April 2013, 19:58

NHS England has announced Children’s heart surgery in Leeds will restart on Wednesday.

Operations were halted at the unit last month after concerns were raised over death rate data and other issues - a decision that provoked anger, surprise and dismay from campaigners who had been fighting to keep open the threatened centre.

Last week, after a series of high-level meetings, the hospital announced it would be allowed to restart surgery if a team of experts gave the necessary endorsements.

In a statement, NHS England said on Monday: “Children's heart surgery at Leeds General Infirmary can begin a phased restart on Wednesday.''

NHS England said it originally raised concerns about services at the LGI because figures suggested high mortality, concerns about staffing levels, whistleblowing information from clinicians, and complaints from patients.

Its statement on Monday said “NHS England has accepted the trust's recommendation, supported by independent experts, that surgery should resume gradually over the next month, starting with lower-risk cases.

“The second stage of the review will now begin looking at other areas where improvement may be necessary.''

It said this second stage will involve a review of the way complaints from patients are handled and completion of a review of patients' case notes over the last three years.

The statement went on: “NHS England will further explore issues that have been raised about referral practices to ensure they are clinically appropriate.”

Sir Bruce Keogh, the medical director of NHS England, said: "The information that came to light about Leeds raised some really serious questions and action had to be taken.

"The trust agreed to pause surgery until these questions were investigated.

"We would not have been forgiven if a child had died or suffered unnecessary harm while we sat on our hands."

The Leeds centre has been earmarked for permanent closure following a nationwide review of children's cardiac services in England.

But the campaign group organised to fight that decision won a major victory in the High Court just a day before NHS England arrived in the city with concerns about the unit which forced the suspension of surgery.

Maggie Boyle, chief executive of the trust, said: "I am delighted to say we are now reopening the unit having had the quality of our service independently verified by the Care Quality Commission, NHS England and the NHS Trust Development Authority following a rapid review process which took place over the weekend.''

Ms Boyle continued: "We are aware of the upset and worry this process has caused to our patients and families as well as the dedicated staff of the unit."

The trust thanked the families, stakeholders and staff for their continued support and understanding.

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