CAMPAIGNING mum Gaynor Bearder has welcomed news that children’s heart surgery is set to resume at Leeds.
And she revealed her son Joel, 5, has been told he has a “perfect” little heart just five weeks after his second major surgery at the unit.
Calls have been made for an investigation into why the decision was taken to suspend services at Leeds General Infirmary just 24 hours after campaigners Save Our Surgery (SOS) had won a two year court battle to keep it open.
The doors were shut after Sir Bruce Keogh, the medical director of NHS England, claimed its mortality rate was double the national average.
The figures were later revealed to be inaccurate but health chiefs took more than a week to decide to resume surgery.
Following a summit between Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, NHS England and other partners on Thursday, a trust spokesman 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.”
Maggie Boyle, chief executive of the trust, said she was “extremely confident” the service was safe and effective and NHS England said the organisation would support the safe reopening at the earliest opportunity.
MPs and campaigners, have welcomed the news but said questions now needed to be answered.
SOS spokeswoman, Sharon Cheng, said: “The last week’s investigations and discussions have indicated that standards at the unit are safe – we now wait for the final independent assurance so that we can move ahead.
“We are asking that surgery be resumed as early as possible next week so that patients and families, who have been so worried through this suspension period, can be reassured that the unit is operating safely, and that planned treatments will be able to proceed.
“Many children are reliant on the Leeds unit for urgent or on-going treatment, so the sooner normal service can be resumed, the better.”
Gaynor, who has been a keen supporter of SOS, said everyone had been on tenterhooks when she took Joel to LGI for his check-up on Thursday.
She said: “It’s the biggest relief ever and absolutely the right decision to re-open it.
“I’m stunned it’s taken so long.
“The conduct of NHS England has been abysmal.
“They’ve dragged it out so Keogh doesn’t lose face.
“They’ve put him before the children, all to protect his reputation, it’s diabolical.
“The damage they’ve done is unforgivable, there needs to be an inquiry.”
The Linthwaite mum said the check-up revealed Joel’s tiny ticker had recovered well and she said he’d been swimming for the first time ever yesterday.
She said: “He’s incredible, he’s got the perfect little heart, in their words, which he’s never had before.
“We wouldn’t have had this time with our little boy if it wasn’t for LGI.
“We’re forever in their debt and if we had to go back for surgery now we would absolutely choose Leeds.”