A REPORT into the poor treatment of families at the children’s heart surgery unit in Leeds did not allow the unit to respond to claims, the charity supporting it has said.

The Children’s Heart Surgery Fund has said it welcomes the findings of an NHS England commissioned report concluded that medical and surgical care of patients at the heart surgery unit – which cares for children in York and North Yorkshire – was safe and “in line with standard practice.”

However, it said not enough chance was given for the unit to respond to the distressing testimonies of 16 families. Parents have told how they were pressured into abortions, treated without compassion and were insensitively told their children were dying.

Sharon Cheng, director of the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, said: “These are 16 complaints over a four years during which the unit handled 40,000 patient cases and conducted over 1500 operations.

"While one complaint is too many, the majority of patients under Leeds’ care tell us on a daily basis what a superb service they receive. We believe this should have been in the report."

The unit was shut for over a week last year after it was found the death rate was 2.75 times higher than the national average and after parents and another NHS unit raised concerns.