A children’s heart surgery unit which was temporarily closed last March due to fears over a high number of patient deaths is safe, a review has found.

Surgery was suspended for two weeks at Leeds General Infirmary’s paediatric heart unit after data suggested a higher death rate than average.

A year-long NHS England review has concluded the unit “does not have an excessive mortality”.

But it also found that some families of very sick children received poor care.

Operations at the hospital’s unit were suspended on 28 March 2013 after NHS England raised concerns about data on mortality rates at the centre.

The suspension came just a day after a decision to stop children’s heart surgery at the hospital – as part of an England-wide reorganisation of services – was quashed in the High Court.

Operations were allowed to resume at the unit on 10 April last year after an investigation revealed the mortality data was flawed.

A two-pronged review was launched by NHS England, one part examining the unit’s mortality rates and the other looking at the experience of 16 families who felt they had been let down by the unit.

That review has found mortality rates, focusing on the 35 children who died following surgery between 2009 and 2013, show the unit “does not have an excessive mortality”.

Mike Bewick, NHS England’s deputy medical director, told Radio 4’s Today programme that, although services at Leeds were found to be safe, he was “devastated” by some of the findings of the review.

He apologised to the families of sick children who were found to have received poor care and insisted healthcare was “moving towards a much more compassionate type of medicine”.

Politicians needed to work more closely with the medical profession to “align what’s best practice”, he said.

Sir Roger Boyle, the previous head of the National Institute for Cardiovascular Outcomes Research (Nicor), resigned as England’s so-called “heart tsar”, when Nicor flagged concerns about Leeds last year.

 

Source: BBC News