Families whose children were born with heart problems have been invited to help shape standards at Leeds General Infirmary.
The olive branch comes after years of bitter court action over the future of unit.
Huddersfield campaigners became embroiled in a three-year campaign to retain services in Leeds after the NHS threatened to close it in 2011, leaving parents with the prospect of having to travel to Newcastle or Liverpool for treatment for their children.
They included Linthwaite mum Gaynor Bearder, whose son Joel, 7 has twice had life-saving surgery at the Leeds unit.
The service was temporarily closed in March last year, just days after it was saved in court amid fears the death rates were too high.
But it was later proven the unit was safe and the concerns had been based on dodgy data.
Now NHS England has vowed to wipe the slate clean and has created a new set of standards for all children’s heart units.
A 12-week consultation on the new standards has been launched with interested parents, patient groups and clinicians invited to an event in Leeds on November 3.
Gaynor, said it was her understanding the Leeds unit’s future was secure and said she would be attending the event.
“While they’re continuing to engage with us there’s still hope for us,” she said. “The Leeds unit is going from strength to strength.
“The surgeon that did Joel’s operation last year is now full time there.”
She added: “Joel can’t be fixed, he can only be patched up, so we need a lifelong commitment that the Leeds unit will retained, right into adulthood.
“Joel’s got at least two more operations so it’s absolutely a priority to us that it remains.”
NHS England said the proposed new standards had been developed with patient representatives, children and young people and clinical staff from specialist surgical centres. They were then considered by an expert clinical advisory panel.
Sharon Cheng, CEO of Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, who campaigned to keep the Leeds unit, said it was “early days” for the consultation.
She called on the NHS to make sure all sections of the population were given adequate opportunity to contribute
“We will be working on behalf of families across Yorkshire to help make that happen,” she added.
Dr Jackie Cornish, National Clinical Director for Children, Young People and Transition to Adulthood, NHS England, said: “Congenital heart disease services in this country already provide good, safe care, with high survival rates after surgery.
“But we know there are areas for improvement, and we want consistent services of the highest quality for all our patients throughout their lives, wherever they live.”
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