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Keighley families' delight as Leeds heart unit is saved
“Amazing” is the reaction from Keighley parents to news that the Leeds children’s heart unit is safe.
Women whose sons were treated at the Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) unit were relieved to hear the outcome of a review into its services.
The report, published last week, was commissioned last year following concerns about data on death rates.
Silsden woman Kirsty Whitaker, whose seven-year-old son Joseph was treated at the unit soon after birth, said she had never lost faith in the unit.
And Andrea Steel, of Oakworth Road, Keighley, said she was over the moon to learn that the unit was safe.
Mrs Steel’s son Ben – now 26 – received treatment for two heart conditions when doctors discovered he had a congenital heart defect.
The children's heart surgery centre at LGI was temporarily closed last year after NHS England raised concerns about the death rate data.
The move provoked huge anger and debate, especially as parents and clinicians from the unit linked it to the ongoing controversy about which children’s heart surgery units were to be closed as part of a nationwide rationalisation of the service.
The review into paediatric cardiology at LGI last week gave the unit a clean bill of health, but also highlighted the experiences of 16 families which complained of poor care at the unit.
Mrs Whitaker said. “Because of the nature of the work at the unit there are bound to be families that are unhappy.”
She believed the unit’s reputation would benefit from recent pioneering medical treatments carried out by surgeons.
She added: “At the end of the day it’s all looking positive and it can only bode well for the future.”
Mrs Steel said the small number of complaints about the heart unit had been “blown out of context”.
She said: “There’s no better unit around. I’ve always found the staff brilliant, very understanding. I’ve seen staff cry when they have lost a child – it affects everybody.”
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