THE FIGHT goes on!
That was the unequivocal message last night from campaigners who had fought to keep a children’s heart surgery unit in West Yorkshire.
Just 24 hours after the bitterly-disappointing news that the unit at Leeds was to close, following a national review, there was united opposition to the decision.
Politicians, parents and medical staff vowed to fight on and try and stop the closure going ahead.
Linthwaite mum Gaynor Bearder, who was at the eight-hour NHS Safe and Sustainable Review meeting which made the decision, said it was “disgusting”.
She is the mum of young Joel Bearder, whose life was saved by surgery at the Leeds unit.
Ms Bearder said: “We are not accepting this. The way they reached this decision was disgraceful. It was obviously done and dusted before they started the pretence of a meeting – we were even given a booklet about the new system within minutes of the meeting ending.
“We are going to fight on for the sake of millions of people in this area. It is not right that Yorkshire children should have to travel hours or hundreds of miles for vital surgery.”
Another parent, Mary Dennison, of Brighouse, has a son with Down’s Syndrome, who underwent surgery at the Leeds unit.
She said: “It is difficult enough to have a child facing life or death surgery without the extra pressure of being away from your own area. They have to travel for pre-op assessments and follow-ups after the operation.
“Leeds has got great networks – road rail etc – and all children’s services are on one site. Children who need heart operations also need extra care.
“I am gutted. Fourteen years ago my son Jack had his emergency operation – if we had not been in the Leeds hospital he would not be here now.”