Nurses at the Leeds General Infirmary say they would not move to another centre should children’s heart surgery be forced to close.
In a survey of 50 nurses, on the paediatric cardio-thoracic ward and children’s cardiac intensive care unit, 98% of them said family commitments, financial constraints, travel distance and friends in the area would mean they would not be prepared to move.
The NHS Safe and Sustainable review into children’s heart surgery provision in the UK concluded in July that surgery at Leeds would end leaving parents and patients to travel to centres in Newcastle, Liverpool and Birmingham for surgery.
The nursing staff on the ward, from sisters to play therapists, make up a team which has been designated as a gold standard network with a combined experience of 467 years. There is a risk the strong network breaking down if the recommendations by Safe and Sustainable to end surgery at the unit goes ahead.
Sharon Cheng, Children’s Heart Surgery Fund charity Director, said: “We’re fully committed to saving children’s heart surgery in Leeds as we believe the decision to end it is flawed. Nurses and parents alike have expressed their concern at the decision and have questioned the future of their jobs / surgery at the unit. We are working with them to ensure everyone is kept informed on the latest activity and assure everyone that we will do everything we can to reverse the decision.”
There has been widespread public outcry since the decision was made on 4 July with almost 3,000 people attending a peaceful demonstration held on 23 July in Leeds. Politicians from all parties have joined forces to voice their outrage and have written to the former Health Secretary Andrew Lansley. The Health Overview and Scrutiny Panel, the group that represents councils from across the region, has also stated its intent to refer the decision to the Health Secretary.
Last year more than 600,000 people from across Yorkshire, the Humber and Lincolnshire signed a petition supporting the children’s heart unit at the LGI, which provides life-saving surgery to hundreds of children in Yorkshire and the Humber and beyond, annually. The campaign has continued to receive cross party political support from MPs who have already begun leading the debate in the House of Commons.