COUNCILLORS are stepping into the furore surrounding plans to shut a lifesaving heart unit in West Yorkshire.

Scrutiny councillors from across Yorkshire and Humber want to know what people think of the controversial plans.

The review of children’s congenital heart services in England includes a proposal to reduce the number of NHS hospitals that provide heart surgery for children.

Four options are being consulted upon – three of which do not include Leeds General Infirmary and would require Huddersfield residents to travel to Newcastle or Liverpool.

That’s an issue which has prompted fierce debate in Huddersfield, especially from families who have benefited from the services in Leeds.

They include the families of Linthwaite youngsters Joel Bearder and Ben Pogson, who have both had vital surgery in Leeds.

Their parents are leading lights in the campaign to save the unit.

As the proposals represent a significant variation to local health services, the NHS is required to formally consult with scrutiny committees of local councils.

Two drop-in sessions are being held on Monday, May 23 (4pm to 7pm) at Huddersfield Town Hall and on Tuesday, May 24 (4pm to 7pm) at Dewsbury Town Hall.

Clr Elizabeth Smaje, who is representing Kirklees on the Regional Health Scrutiny Committee, is offering people the opportunity to meet with her to put forward their views so that she can feed this into the committee’s work.

Clr Smaje said: “Scrutiny councillors from across Yorkshire and Humber are listening to evidence from a range of experts as we undertake a thorough scrutiny of the proposals put forward.

“It is also very important that we hear from local people and community groups potentially affected by the proposals so that we can take account of their views when we respond to the consultation.”

Members of the public and community groups can also submit written comments and evidence for the attention of Clr Smaje and the Regional Health Scrutiny Committee.

These can be sent to the Scrutiny and Governance Team, 2nd Floor, Civic Centre III, Huddersfield, HD1 2TG, or emailed to

Full details of the consultation, which runs until July 1, can be found at the following address:

PEOPLE fighting to save the children’s heart unit can now text their concerns.

The aim is to encourage young people across Yorkshire to have their say.

Officials behind the consultation believe texting is a better way for young people to take part.

Many thousands in Huddersfield have already signed petitions opposing the move.

Safe and Sustainable – the NHS consultation on children’s congenital heart services – is now seeking the views of young people.

They have launched the text service and also a simple version of the consultation document – ‘Better care for your heart’.

Young people can text ‘HEART’ to 85001 free of charge and will be sent a question asking them for their view on the proposals for change.

For more details visit