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Leeds heart unit – Two different perspectives

March 29, 2013

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-21977956

Cameron and Georges Mothers both explain to the BBC why they feel the way they do about the cardiac surgery that their children received.

The issue is that a Government wide review looking into the national requirement for Paediatric cardiac surgical services had decided that two northern based services would be located in Liverpool and Newcastle. Throughout the review local communities surrounding the hospitals involved in the review, defended the local status quo in what seems like a tribal battle to protect ‘their own’.

The  interviews with two Leeds Mothers demonstrates this polarised view. Baby Cameron had successful surgery with his Mother stating she was happy with the local provision. She praises the staff and comments that they answered ‘all of their questions’ and comments that they couldn’t get a better service elsewhere. George’s Mother tells how he had surgery which didn’t go so well. The surgery had to be halted mid surgery resulting in a spell in intensive care. She feels George didn’t get the care she feels he could have had and feels that Leeds General Infirmary staff ‘wrote him off’ and considered him a palliative case (not curing but supporting the disease process as best as is possible)

What do the two views tell us is that, depending upon their personal experiences, they will view the validation of their case differently. However personal and real it is to these families, they are not in the best position to make such judgments. Cameron’s Mother, understandably, believes she couldn’t get better care for her son anywhere yet, if the reports from Professor Gibbs are in any way accurate, the Leeds General Infirmary surgical performance was found wanting when compared with other centers of excellence.  The save our surgery (SOS) campaign group will no doubt sit in the camp with Cameron’s Mother who, through a sense of conviction, believe their hospital meets the requirements for safety and results in this complex area of surgery. Modern health service audit data is the key to this. Health care professionals had concerns about the Leeds service and made it known to  Sir Bruce Keogh. When linked to the audit data which hit the headlines today, a picture merges of concern over the Leeds surgical service.

The Save our Surgery group will no doubt still defend their unit to the hilt but like Cameron’s Mother, they are too close to the situation to be rational about these matters. This is a tough subject but regional specialty in service provision will be an increasing feature of a modern health care service. It may not be what the Leeds group want to hear but the temporary halt called on legal proceedings will only stall the process. It looks pretty certain that today’s exposure of additional concerns about the unit alongside the review of paediatric surgical services recommending Newcastle as the main center in the North, that Leeds will lose out. If, in the near future, we find that there were failings in the local service, the correct decision will have been made. Expertise and safety for these children trumps tribalism every time.

BBC Interview of two mothers – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-21977956

Guardian on concerns over Leeds children’s heart surgery

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/mar/29/leeds-general-infirmary-halts-heart-operations-children?CMP=twt_gu

 

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