Leeds children’s heart unit to reopen

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Children’s heart surgery is to resume in Leeds after days of uncertainty over its future.

A decision to reopen the unit at Leeds General Infirmary early next week was reached at a meeting between health bosses late last night (Thursday).

A spokesman for the trust said agencies will act over the weekend to “provide sufficient assurance” that the unit is safe to reopen.

He said: “Following a productive multi-agency meeting to review the decision to suspend children’s cardiac surgery at Leeds General Infirmary, agreement was reached to work together to restart surgery on the site early next week subject to independent assurance of concerns raised.”

All operations at the unit were halted last Thursday after NHS figures suggested the unit had a death rate double that of other centres.

However, medical bodies, doctors and other experts have questioned the accuracy of the data, which they say was unverified and not fit to base such a decision on.

Parents criticised the timing of the unit’s suspension, which came just 24 hours after a High Court judge ruled that a decision-making process to close it as part of an England-wide reorganisation of services was “legally flawed”.

Sir Bruce Keogh, the medical director of NHS England, had said the figures were among a “constellation of reasons” the decision was made.

If the unit closes, it means poorly children from Wakefield will have to travel to Liverpool or Newcastle.