Heart surgery mum speaks out at delay

A KIRK DEIGHTON mum whose daughters’ life was saved by surgeons has spoken of her “disappointment” at the latest delay on the future of children’s heart surgery in Leeds.

Annette Jackson, 47, who is mum to nine-year-old Katie Jackson told the Wetherby News last month of how her daughter’s life was saved by surgeons at the Leeds unit when she was just one month old.

But after the latest delay announced on Wednesday, Mrs Jackson said it is a “disappointment” to parents like herself who are fighting so hard to keep heart for children in the city.

A decision over the future of the children’s heart surgery unit was initially expected in November 2011 but has now been deferred until March 19.

Annette said: “Katie is doing well at the moment but she will need another operation on her heart in the future.

“The good thing about another delay in the decision is that it will give us longer to campaign.

“I am still really, really hoping that the surgeons unit at Leeds will stay open. It doesn’t make sense to close it.”

Annette added that she is hoping to raise more awareness over the next few weeks with a number of fundraising events leading up to the appeal date.

The cause of the delay is due to the Joint Chairs of the Primary Trusts (JCPCT) being granted more time to appeal the High Court judge’s decision that ruled the initial consultation, carried out last year, as “flawed” and “inaccurate.”

The ongoing appeal process is in response to the Judicial Review by the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, based in London, which is currently being heard by the Court of Appeal.

As reported in the Wetherby News, health service chiefs want to cut the number of hospitals which offer cardiac operations for youngsters because they say a system of fewer, larger units would be safer.

The number of children’s specialist heart units across the country being proposed would drop from from 11 to either six or seven. If the Leeds surgery was to close, it would see hundreds of children having to travel to either Newcastle or Liverpool for heart surgery.

Sharon Cheng, director of the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, a charity working with parents across Yorkshire to fight the closure, said: “This delay is another set-back to families who are desperate to find out whether they will be forced to travel potentially hundreds of miles for treatment.”