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‘Flawed’ score process that led to child heart unit closure must be reviewed
THE “flawed process” which resulted in a controversial decision to end child heart surgery in our region must be examined in the forthcoming independent review ordered by the Secretary of State for Health, say campaigners.
Jeremy Hunt announced this week he was halting the planned closure of the paediatric heart surgery service at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI), pending a review by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP).
While welcoming the decision, the Save Our Surgery (SOS) campaign said it hoped the review would look into the original process and scoring system.
Sharon Cheng, of the SOS campaign, said: “While we are delighted that the Government has finally listened to the concerns of patients, MPs and local councillors and stepped in to halt the planned closures, our fear is the IRP will simply repeat the same flawed process as originally used.
“We are confident that if the IRP thoroughly investigates the way the original review was approached, how hospitals were scored, and how that scoring was used, it will understand why this process has sparked such widespread concern.”
The decision to close the LGI service and move it to Newcastle met with protests from parents in York, who felt lives could be put at risk if seriously ill children had to endure the longer ambulance journey to Tyneside.
Meanwhile Sir Neil McKay, chairman of the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts, the group behind the controversial LGI decision, said he would be working closely with the IRP review.
However, he said: “The decision on the future of children’s heart services, which was welcomed by Royal Colleges of medicine, doctors, nurses and national charities, was made after carefully considering a number of factors, which included evidence on patient travel times, transferring ECMO services and demand on surgical services.
“The IRP has noted the JCPCT’s concern that the process of challenging the decision risks further uncertainty for children’s heart services in England.”