LGI Childrens Heart Surgery Unit

Following the announcement that it is proposed to end specialised heat surgery for children at the Leeds General Infirmary, Fabian has stepped up his work to support moves to reverse this decision. At an interview he gave to Radio Leeds on the 4th July 2012 he reiterated his firm view that the geography of the UK meant that Leeds was the most sensible centre for the location of a specialist heart unit especially as it currently forms part of one of the largest concentrations of medical expertise anywhere.

The next day Fabian submitted an oral question to the Health Minister at Westminster and, together with local Members Stuart Andrew MP and Greg Mulholland MP he applied for the matter to be considered for a parliamentary debate by the Back Bench Business Committee which is able to determine some of the issues in the parliamentary timetable. The Back Bench Committee viewed the matter gravely but there was insufficient time for it to be debated in the remaining period before the recess. Subsequently a debate has been promised for September. Fabian also hopes to see the matter raised this term in an adjournment debate before the House rises.

On Tuesday 10th July Fabian met members of the Children's Heart Surgery Campaign in London that had been joined by Leeds Councillor John Illingworth and Kevin Watterson the senior cardiac surgeon from LGI. Fabian strongy supported the view that specialised surgical units in both Leeds and Newcastle should remain open to satisfy the needs of both communities as shutting either would cause profound distress in the large conurbation affected. Fabian also noted that the review leading to the closure programme had not included Scotland and if implemented would lead to the anomalous situation of units being retained in Glasgow and Edinburgh (just 40 miles apart) even though the performance data for Glasgow suggests that it is less effective than either Leeds or Newcastle at present.

Last week Fabian had a private conversation with the Andrew Lansley MP, Health Secretary, who advised him that a decision on closure was not a government matter. However procedure requires for such a matter to be referred to the minister if the local authorities of the area concerned raise it. Fabian is actively promoting the cross-party accord in Leeds in order to ensure that such a controversial decision is taken at the highest level and, to seek to ensure that common sense prevails. Leeds City Council, only last Wednesday passed unanimously an emergency motion, with all party support, noting with great concern the decision by the Joint Committee of the Primary Care Trusts not to retain Leeds as a designated surgical centre for children's congenital cardiac surgery services. The Council confirmed its support for the decision to be referred to the Secretary of State given the adverse impact the plan would have on the population of this region and upon local health services.

Fabian has met children and their families who have been greatly helped by the unit at LGI and fully understands the distress that is being caused by the current proposal.

The photograps below show the large demonstration held in Leeds on Monday 23rd July 2012 and the its size indicates the volume and strength of public opinion. Councillors and local MPs took part. Fabian was unable to attend as he was undertaking his charity cycle ride to Berlin.