Fight still on to save heart unit

RESEARCH on where Dearne families would go for treatment if a children’s heart unit at Leeds should close, WILL now be considered in a review.

The charity fighting to keep Ward 10 at Leeds General Infirmary open is urging Don and Dearne people to make their voices heard now, while the future of the unit that serves thousands of Yorkshire families is still undecided.

A call back to battle from the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund comes after the Independent Reconfiguration Panel, a group which provides advice to the Secretary of State on health change proposals, said that vital research on where local people would travel to if Leeds were forced to close, should be taken in to account.

It had been assumed by the NHS’ Safe and Sustainable review that if Leeds went, patients would travel to Newcastle as an alternative site. But a report by Price Waterhouse Cooper demonstrates most people would choose Liverpool or Birmingham units instead. It is also unclear how Newcastle would meet its minimum requirement of operations.

Director of the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, Sharon Cheng, said: “Research shows that many people across the region would not travel to Newcastle, if Leeds was forced to close. This is a fundamental point. If you want to support the fight we would ask you to write to the head of the review, Sir Neil McKay, urging the JCPCT to consider the patient flow research and give your personal insight in to how the closure of Leeds would affect you from a travel point of view.”

Among campaigners are Kerry Uttley of Rawmarsh, whose daughter Carenza, three, was saved by the Leeds unit after being born with two holes in her heart. Kerry and her husband Mick have raised thousands of pounds towards equipping the unit.

Emma Hawksworth of Wath is another campaigner. Her daughter Amy was born with heart complications and spent her first six weeks at Leeds. A year ago, she underwent seven hours of open heart surgery.

Letters should go to: Sir Neil McKay CBE, Chair, Joint Committee of PCTs, 2-4 Victoria House, Capital Park, Fulbourn, South Cambridgeshire, CB21 5XB. For more information on the fight to save heart surgery services in Yorkshire visit