Thousands support heart surgery fight

A march through Leeds city centre in support of the Leeds General Infirmary Children's Heart Unit.
A march through Leeds city centre in support of the Leeds General Infirmary Children's Heart Unit.

THOUSANDS of people took to the streets of Leeds this week to fight for children’s heart surgery services in West Yorkshire.

Up to 3,000 people were said to have joined Monday’s demonstration and march for the threatened Leeds General Infirmary unit.

Waving Save Our Surgery placards and carrying homemade banners, they called for the ward to be reprieved.

Campaigners were left in tears earlier this month after health bosses decided which hospitals in the country would have to stop carrying out children’s heart operations and named Leeds as one of them.

The decision – part of a national review to improve standards – means sick youngsters from north Kirklees would be expected to go to Newcastle instead.

But campaigners, backed by MPs, councillors, hospital staff and a 600,000-signature petition, vowed to battle on.

Mum Sally Boocock told the crowds on Monday: “We may have lost the first battle, but we have not lost the war. We will keep on fighting.”

And on Wednesday, it was confirmed that the Health Secretary would be asked to overturn the controversial closure move.

Councillors from across the county unanimously voted to refer the decision to Secretary of State Andrew Lansley after quizzing members of the panel which decided to shut the Leeds unit.

Sharon Cheng, from Save Our Surgery, said: “It’s an excellent move.

“We feel that questions were not answered today, as suspected. We still feel the people of this region are going to be seriously disadvantaged.

“This meeting should have taken place months ago. We welcome this decision whole-heartedly.”