Report Rules Care At Leeds Heart Centre Is Safe

13 March 2014, 12:37 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50

The children's heart surgery centre in Leeds temporarily closed last year due to fears over mortality rates has been ruled safe.

But, both NHS England and the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, have said sorry after the report highlighted poor care received by 16 families.

One woman described how she felt pressurised into having an abortion, which was against her Muslim beliefs.

Others complained about a lack of compassion following the death of their child saying they were simply given a leaflet.

Another described how a book had gone missing in which their son had been writing about his experiences before his death.

"It was like losing another part of him,'' the parent said.

"We asked the staff to find it. They told us they could not find it. They didn't seem bothered. They didn't seem to realise what it meant to us."

NHS England said in its overview of the report:

"We conclude that these families did not get the level of care or service that they deserved and for this we are truly sorry.''

Operations at the LGI unit were suspended for more than a week last year after NHS England raised concerns about data on death rates at the centre.

The move provoked huge anger and debate, especially as parents and clinicians from the unit linked it to the ongoing controversy about which children's heart surgery units were to be closed as part of a nationwide rationalisation of the service.

Dr Yvette Oade, the chief medical officer at Leeds Teaching Hospitals, said:

"We are pleased for our patients, families and staff that the Mortality Case Review has confirmed the medical and surgical care provided by the children's heart surgery unit in Leeds is safe.

"We are very sorry however that the 16 families who shared their stories with the Family Experience Review felt we did not provide the care they had a right to expect.

"We sincerely apologise to those families and will, of course, ensure we learn from what they had to say and improve our services as a result of this.''

Sharon Cheng, the director of the Children's Heart Surgery Fund, said:

"Leeds' outcomes and quality of care are in line with national requirements and those of other units, and parents can feel 100% reassured in the treatment that their children will receive at Leeds.''

Mrs Cheng said she thought the trust is taking the 16 complaints ``very seriously''.

But said: "These are 16 complaints over a period of four years during which the unit handled 40,000 cases and conducted over 1,500 operations."

"While one complaint is too many, the vast majority of families tell us on a daily basis what a superb service they receive from Leeds and the team has gone above and beyond to care for their children.''