The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, today visited NHS staff and patients at the Children’s Heart Surgery Unit, Leeds General Infirmary.
The NHS review in July 2012 recommended that paediatric heart services should stop at Leeds General Infirmary, and that such surgery should take place at other centres in the country. However this decision is to be re-examined in two independent reviews.
The Archbishop was invited to the Heart Surgery Unit following a meeting with NHS staff during a Diocesan visit to Ripon and Leeds in 2012.
Dr Sentamu said:
“It is a great privilege to visit Leeds Children’s Heart Surgery Unit today and to see the life-saving work that is being undertaken on a daily basis.
“I want to thank all the staff here for the work they are doing serving others. They are there for families in tough times, not only offering professional clinical care but also offering support when it’s needed.
“For 40% of children operated on, but who need long-term care, the staff are there to support patients and their families right through to adulthood. Sometimes that will be through providing such things as accommodation but often it will be through offering words of encouragement. That’s a really important role.
“This Unit serves the whole region and has saved the lives of so many across Yorkshire and further afield. It is inconceivable that we could lose such a fantastic integrated local service. This is one of the top performing units in the country and it is the only one with the recognised ‘gold standard’ of having the co-location of all paediatric services that are required.
“I met some of the staff on a recent Diocesan visit to Ripon and Leeds and I was struck by their passion and determination. I was delighted to accept their invitation to come and see the Unit, and meet some of the people they are helping.
“I have been supporting this campaign to keep the Children’s Heart Surgery Unit at Leeds open for some time behind the scenes. I have raised my concerns personally with Government Ministers. But today I want to say publicly that we need to keep this Unit open.
“We need a strong NHS serving a large number of children. Closing the specialist heart unit at Leeds will have a devastating effect on so many people. It would be terrible news for people across Yorkshire.
“Whilst I understand the difficult economic situation we face as a country, we should not get into a situation where one NHS Trust is played off against another.
“People talk about the ‘choice’ agenda, but actually the choice people want is to be able to go to their local hospital and receive first class care, regardless of where they live. What we need is good co-ordination, clinical collaboration – not a culture of winner-takes-all excellence.”
For more information please call Kerron Cross, Director of Communications for the Archbishop of York, on 01904 772 364 or 07738 354 491.