CHILDREN’S lives could be put at risk if paediatric heart surgery in Leeds is ended, senior medics have warned.
A review concluded in July that surgery at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) and two other hospitals should stop so it could be concentrated at fewer sites.
But a petition signed by 170 senior specialists claims longer journeys for treatment will endanger sick children.
Lord Ribeiro, of the independent review into theplans, said it would “listen to everybody we come across in Leeds”.
If implemented, the proposals – announced in the summer by the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) – would mean the end of children’s heart surgery in Leeds as well asat Leicester’s Glenfield Hospital and London’s Royal Brompton.
Dozens of Huddersfield children have benefited from treatment at the unit and their families have backed the campaign.
Treatment would instead take place in Newcastle, Liverpool, Bristol, Birmingham, Southampton and two London centres.
At the time the proposals were announced, Sir Neil McKay, chairman of the JCPCT, said the proposals were based on the needs of children not the “vested interests” of hospitals.
The petition against the proposals, containing signatures from specialists across Yorkshire and the Humber, was handed to members of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel while on a fact-finding visit to the LGI.
Lead signatory Mark Darowski, a children’s intensive care specialist at the LGI, said if paediatric heart surgery in Leeds did end it would mean a three-fold rise in journey times for children needing urgent treatment.
“There is a group of children with severe congenital heart disease who need to arrive at hospital in good time to get treatment and if they do so then their survival rate is very good,” he said.
“We have one or two deaths every couple of years with these children and more near-misses. The near-misses will turn into deaths if we increase transport times.”
Mr Darowski said he hoped the Independent Reconfiguration Panel would reach a “common sense”conclusion.