‘WHITEWASH!’ –Leeds heart surgery report is condemned

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Leeds heart unit campaigners are determined that their children’s heart unit should remain open
Leeds heart unit campaigners are determined that their children’s heart unit should remain open

‘WHITEWASH!’, said the furious parents of extremely sick children yesterday, as they branded a long overdue report into the decision to suspend children’s heart surgery in Leeds.

The report shows that the decision to suspend the vital services at Leeds was based on ‘invalidated and incomplete data’.

Operations at the hospital’s unit were halted on 28 March 2013 when NHS England raised concerns about data on mortality rates.

However, surgery resumed on 10 April after an investigation revealed the data was flawed.

The final report blames management, clinicians and ‘campaigners’ for the decision to close the services.

However, while the services were wrongly suspended children missed out on vital surgery and parents are furious that not only did their children suffer from the decision to suspend the services but they themselves are now being blamed for the suspension.

Michelle Elliot, whose daughter was left brain damaged after procedures at Leeds were halted, said: ‘I think that this report is a cover-up. The parents that are involved were not “campaigners”, we were just a group of parents who got together to go through the correct line of complaint.

‘I am disgusted and very frustrated with it. We were told so many lies by the unit, and by NHS England. . .

‘I stand here distraught and devastated because all I am trying to do is get the right action for my child.

‘To suggest that the parents are somehow to blame is scandalous. We followed the correct procedures. . .

‘My child has been left disabled by the delays at Leeds. Leeds have accepted that they delayed too long.’

The report said: ‘Inaccurate data is worse than useless and can be positively damaging.

‘At Leeds incomplete information was instrumental in causing the suspension of surgery and great consternation both at the hospital and in the community it serves.

‘Leeds senior management at the time should have ensured that data was full, accurate and submitted on time.’

The time it took to publish the report was branded ‘a disgrace’ by the local MP.

Greg Mulholland, MP for north-west Leeds, said the delayed release of the findings was ‘not acceptable’.

NHS England claimed it had encountered ‘complex issues’ with the report.

Mulholland said: ‘This reflects very badly on NHS England. They still haven’t produced the third report into that suspension, which never should have happened, and that really is a disgrace.’