Closing heart surgery unit 'tragedy' for North Lincs patients
A key children’s heart unit which serves patients from North Lincolnshire will no longer be able to provide surgery, following a decision by NHS bosses.
An official review concluded Leeds General Infirmary should stop child heart surgery so care could be concentrated at fewer, larger sites to improve standards.
Families from across Yorkshire and the Humber will now face longer travel times to get surgery – with Newcastle being the closest for patients in Scunthorpe.
The children's heart unit in Leeds will remain open but it will only be able to see patients for diagnosis, monitoring and non-surgical treatment.
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The decision was made by NHS’s Safe and Sustainable review at a Meeting of the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts which was held on July 4 at the Congress Centre in London.
Parents who were campaigning to keep the heart surgery open at Leeds were left devastated by the decision.
Mother-of-four Judith Raspin, from Scunthorpe, is one of the parents who has been fighting to keep the Leeds heart unit open.
Her five-year-old son Jake had surgery at Leeds for a life-threatening heart condition.
Judith said: “Closing the unit is a tragedy and it puts children’s lives at risk.
“It also puts a huge strain on families, both emotionally and financially.
“It is all about cost-cutting.
“The care Jake received at Leeds was fantastic.
“Without them, he would not be here now.
“Newcastle is too far to travel and it means being away from my other children.
“We are going to fight against this decision.”
Helen Drayton, from Winterton, also campaigned for the heart unit to stay open.
Her six-year-old daughter Megan also had surgery at Leeds Children’s Heart Unit.
Helen said: “This decision puts children at risk.
“The other hospitals will have an influx of patients now and they won’t be able to cope.
“Leeds was Megan’s hospital.
“If she had a problem, they would see her straight away.
“It is a heck of a lot longer to travel to Newcastle.”
Louise Payne, from Crowle, was also against the decision and said the hospital was in the ideal location.
Her six-year-old daughter Zoe had surgery at Leeds for a rare heart condition.
Louise said: “Leeds was ideally placed.
“People do not want to travel to Newcastle in our region.
“We cannot nip up to Newcastle from Scunthorpe in a day.
“The unit has been lost for a generation.”
Scunthorpe MP Nic Dakin said: “We have been arguing as MPs across Yorkshire and the Humber that the unit at Leeds should be kept open because it has done such a good job.”
The ruling by the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) means patients in England, Wales and some from Northern Ireland will have surgery at one of seven hospitals in the future.
The JCPCT considered twelve options instead of the four originally tabled and seven hospitals will remain continue to perform child heart surgery.
These include Great Ormond Street and Evelina Children's Hospital, both in London, Newcastle's Freeman Hospital, Birmingham Children's Hospital, Alder Hey in Liverpool, the Royal Children's Hospital in Bristol and Southampton General.