We’ve reported before on Leeds Children’s Heart Unit, and especially on the need for transparency which the long-drawn out process surrounding the unit has thrown up. Councillor John Illingworth, who lives here in Leeds NW, worked tirelessly to try to achieve this.


The release of the Verita report this week has highlighted that need – as well as other problems. But it has also vindicated the safety of the Leeds unit.

We publish below the full statement from Leeds Council, which has been a major player standing by the Leeds Unit throughout.
Councillor Lisa Mulherin, Leeds City Council Executive member for Health and Wellbeing, and Chair of the Health & Wellbeing Board for Leeds, said:

“I am delighted to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust staff to welcome the findings from these reports, which tell us the unit is safe and delivers good quality care and outcomes.

“It has been over eighteen months since paediatric heart surgery in Leeds was briefly suspended. I am pleased that we have now finally seen the publication of this independent report from Verita confirming that the Leeds unit was safe, is safe and should be here to stay.

“We know the Leeds unit has been subject to greater scrutiny than any other and this report goes some way to acknowledge the hard work and commitment of surgeons, nurses and other staff working in Leeds, staff who clearly care passionately about the work they do and the care they deliver.

“As it must be at all hospitals, having the best care for all children who need it and the best support for their families is the most important outcome that we seek. I hope that families can take some satisfaction from the detailed work that was undertaken to listen to their concerns and so many experts to ensure the unit was safe.

“We look forward to working with the hospital’s Chief Executive to restore the trust and confidence in the service the clinicians provide that has suffered throughout this process. Our firm belief that the Congenital Heart Unit in Leeds should continue to offer the valued contribution it makes to the region’s health care has been endorsed by these reports. We hope that the hospital can now concentrate on delivering this vital and valued service to thousands of families year on year.”

Councillor Debra Coupar, Chair of the scrutiny board for Leeds Health and Well-being and Adult Social Care, said:

“Ensuring that services are safe and that where people feel they have concerns about how services are delivered is a vital part of local authority scrutiny board’s role. We hope this will provide an opportunity to highlight how important it is that local authorities and NHS institutions work closely together to make sure concerns are investigated and action is taken promptly and effectively. As the report makes clear:

Anything that goes wrong must be identified and scrutinised openly, not only so that families can be sure that they have all the relevant information but also so that the chance of a recurrence is minimised and public confidence is maintained.”*

“Scrutiny Boards can perform a valuable role shining a light on potential problems and issues in the way that services are delivered. Increasingly there are legal responsibilities for some matters to be referred for scrutiny and along with the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Yorkshire and the Humber), made up of representatives from each of the 15 top-tier authorities across the region, we can provide support and inform decision making.

“Meanwhile, Leeds City Council looks forward to providing further input to the ongoing consultation about the future of congenital heart surgery.”

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