THE man leading the independent review into the closure of the region’s child heart surgery unit says he is now “in listening mode” and wants to hear from parents and clinicians.

Lord Ribeiro, chairman of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel, has started a full review into whether transferring child heart surgery services from Leeds to Newcastle would lead to difficulties accessing vital treatment for children in our region.

Lord Ribeiro said: “The IRP is in listening mode. We are here to listen – we are not here to pontificate. At the end of the day, it’s about the welfare of the children.

“We are here to listen to the views that will be given by a spectrum of people from clinicians to parents.”

The review is talking place following the controversial decision by the NHS’s Safe and Sustainable review panel, to move the surgery service. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt gave the go-ahead for the investigation into the process following a recommendation from the IRP.

Over the coming weeks, Health and Overview Scrutiny Committees and MPs in England and Wales will be invited to share their views with the IRP. The panel will be in Leeds today, but said it will return to the region in January to collect more views from anyone who was unable to give them this time.

Anyone wishing to contact the IRP can do so by email at or by phoning 020 7389 8046.

Meanwhile Save Our Surgery, the campaigning company set up to protect the Leeds paediatric cardiac unit, has issued an appeal for funds to support its legal case against the planned closure.

Sharon Cheng of SOS, said: “The SOS campaign is about putting the needs of ill children and their families at the forefront of NHS decisions rather than bureaucracy or vested interest. Taking the legal route to achieve this has always been our least preferred course of action because of the associated costs to both sides.

“However, with all other options exhausted, and the Department of Health asking that we continue our legal action, it’s now critical that we continue to raise the funds required to complete the proceedings.”

The SOS legal case against the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts, initiated in October, is challenging the legality of the NHS officials’ decision to close the Leeds unit.

Anyone wishing to donate should visit or send donations to Save Our Surgery, Room 001, Ground floor, Old Nurses Home, LGI, Leeds, LS1 3EX.