FIGURES show a disappointing number of people in West Yorkshire have fought to save its closure-threatened children’s heart unit.
And the fear is now growing that these statistics could prove detrimental in the campaign to save the children’s heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary.
It is under threat after an NHS safe and sustainable review ordered the closure of several units across the country.
There are four options available and only one includes keeping the heart unit in Leeds.
If the heart surgical centre is cut, it means that children in desperate need of emergency surgery would have to travel as far as Newcastle.
According to a recent report, there have been more than 74,000 responses to the proposed changes for the children’s congenital cardiac services in England.
Of those responses, just over 47,000 stated their region and only 3,446 came from Yorkshire and the Humber.
Kirklees Council leader Mehboob Khan explained why he believed the statistics showed this.
“Part of the concerns are the way the consultation form has been constructed,’’ he said. “It has been very difficult for people to send in complete responses and also there’s not been enough assistance provided to help people fill in the form.
“It is many pages long and there has not been a lot of help for local people to complete it within the whole of Kirklees.
“The only place they have been able to talk to somebody face to face in is Dewsbury.”
He continued: “In the report there was no data which showed the affect it would have on the number of people in the Yorkshire Humber area who have low income and would incur extra cost travelling to Newcastle.
“All the figures for the London-Leeds option and the London-Newcastle option were lumped together, therefore we weren’t able to see the total affect it would have on people within this area alone.
“The London figures have skewed the Yorkshire and Humber figures in terms of distance and cost.
“When the scrutiny committee was asked to provide these figures they were unable to do so.”
The Health Impact Assessment by the NHS concluded: “Where increases in journey times are experienced, the most significant effects will be included as a result of cessation of paediatric cardiac surgical services at Leeds Teaching Hospital.”
The report also outlined that 25 petitions were received from across the country. The largest was from the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, in support of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust – which had nearly half a million signatures.
Figures showed that the number of heart surgery operations performed at Leeds had risen by 20 last year.
Out of every 10,000 paediatric population, 4.99% from Kirklees are set to visit Leeds.
Clr Khan also suggested that as other areas in the UK were offered help with the complex forms, they also received a pre-printed letter which has been taken into account and is likely to be behind the 7% of total number of responses.
The report identified that consultations went ahead with over 40 families who have a child undergoing heart surgery and who live within vulnerable postcode districts.
Clr Khan said: “We will be lobbying through scrutiny and through our local MPs.
“There is a growing amount of people needing this service in this area and we need to keep this issue alive.”
The final decision on which hospitals will be saved is due to be made later this month.