Calderdale families will have to travel to Newcastle or Liverpool for treatment in future following a decision to close the children’s heart surgery unit in Leeds.
The move has been criticised by Calderdale Council children’s services spokeswoman, Coun Megan Swift (Lab, Town) who said she was dismayed by the decision.
“It means that Calderdale families in the most traumatic circumstances will face lengthy and costly journeys to spend time with their children as they undergo major surgery.
“We will work with colleagues across Yorkshire to explore how we can help parents and surgeons challenge this decision,” she said.
Calder Valley Conservative MP Craig Whittaker described the closure plan as devastating.
Halifax MP Linda Riordan said: “This is the worst possible outcome. The service offered at the heart unit in Leeds was first class and helped so many children over the years.
“I was contacted by a number of concerned constituents about this issue. They will be devastated by this news. Despite the best efforts of a number of people, it seems the decision to close the unit is now set in stone. It is a sad day for West Yorkshire.”
A peitition signed by more than 600,000 people failed to persuade the NHS’s Safe and Sustainable review into national children’s heart surgery provision to keep the Leeds unit.
The Children’s Heart Surgery Fund director, Sharon Cheng, said the decision was a rubber stamping exercise.
“We will appeal to the health minister as he assured us a decision would be made on clinical logic. This has not happened.”
The charity has had concerns around the consultation process and this decision fails to recognise a number of important issues which were highlighted throughout the process.
The unit at Leeds serves a population of 14.2 million people in Yorkshire and the Humber within a two hour drive time which will now be forced to travel to Units in Newcastle, Liverpool or Birmingham.
The Children’s Heart Federation has welcomed an end to the uncertainty about which units will continue to provide children’s heart surgery.
Chief executive Anne Keatley-Clarke said: “We have now been waiting for many years. The delays to planned improvements in children’s heart services caused a great deal of uncertainty for parents and professionals, so we are pleased for them that this has come to an end.”
The Safe and Sustainable review recommended a new set of national quality standards to ensure the highest quality of care. It included the requirement for each surgical unit to have 4 surgeons conducting between 400 and 500 operations per year, thereby ensuring the highest quality care of children needing heart surgery with around the clock care.
Ms Keatley-Clarke stated, “The implementation of these standards will ensure that surgeons operating on our children will be based in well resourced centres of excellence and are able to provide round the clock cover thereby making sure that all children can receive necessary surgical treatment in a timely manner.”