MPs boost the battle for LGI

Rachel Ling with daughter, Georgia
Rachel Ling with daughter, Georgia
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CAMPAIGNERS battling to keep children’s heart surgery in Leeds this week took their fight all the way to Parliament.

MPs from across the region and action group members met in Westminster to decide on the next step in the bid to keep open the specialist unit at Leeds General Infirmary.

The Save Our Surgery action group is challenging a ruling that LGI must lose its unit. The decision by health bosses means local children who need heart surgery will have to travel to new centres in either Newcastle or Liverpool.

Dewsbury and Mirfield MP Simon Reevell, who was at Tuesday’s meeting, said: “We are looking at the possibility of a judicial review. There is a good argument that the Leeds consultation was flawed.

“We want to co-ordinate action rather than have people drifting off in different directions. I think Leeds has a strong case for staying open.” He said a ‘halfway house’ idea of operations taking place elsewhere with after-care in Leeds recognised potential problems with travel.

Rachel Ling, whose daughter has rare stomach and heart defects, said: “We can’t just sit back. I need to know I have done all I can.”

Mrs Ling’s daughter, Georgia, will need more surgery in future for rare stomach and heart defects. “The various units at Leeds have all been under one roof which has helped us to cope,” said Mrs Ling, who lives in Thornhill. “That won’t be the case going to Newcastle.”

Batley and Spen MP Mike Wood said: “We need to look at the number of operations necessary to increase the safety of very sick children. The numbers are crucial and I believe that Leeds and not Newcastle is the only sustainable option. Too many factors have been ignored in making this decision.”

Children’s Heart Surgery fund director Sharon Cheng said: “We are glad MPs are listening to their constituents and we will keep fighting as we believe the case for Leeds has never been stronger.”