Leeds Hospital Campaigners want Investigation

10 April 2013, 12:14

Charity campaigners want Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to launch an investigation into the suspension of surgery in Leeds.

Some operations at the centre will restart today- nearly a fortnight after they were halted by Sir Bruce Keogh, the medical director of NHS England.

On Monday, NHS England announced a phased restart of surgery following the end of a first stage of a review into services.

The decision to suspend surgery last month after concerns were raised over death rate data and other issues caused a huge controversy, especially as it came a day after a group campaigning to save the Leeds unit from permanent closure won an important victory in the High Court.

On Tuesday, that group - Save Our Surgery (SOS) - called on Mr Hunt to launch an independent investigation, saying it feared it was ``no coincidence'' Sir Bruce's intervention came just after the judge's ruling.

SOS campaigner Sharon Cheng said: “Given that the suspension potentially put patients at risk, has caused huge inconvenience and added stress to the families of children who have had to be treated elsewhere, and created unnecessary worries and fears amongst previous patients' families, questions must be asked as to why operations were suspended in the first place.

"We fear it's no coincidence that the action was taken on the day following the High Court verdict quashing the decision that Leeds should stop surgery, as part of the Safe and Sustainable review."

Earlier, Sir Bruce said children's heart surgery at the LGI was halted because of poor data showing unusually high death rates which were submitted by the hospital itself.

He said that such drastic action was needed given the recent scandals at Stafford Hospital and in Bristol, which had occurred while doctors and managers "prevaricated'' over what data meant.

NHS England has said it raised concerns about services at the LGI because of preliminary data suggesting high mortality, concerns about staffing levels, whistle-blowing information from clinicians, and complaints from patients.

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

The NHS plan is to focus care in fewer units which offer more specialist care.

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