Families ‘devastated’ by heart unit plans

Tanesha Ives pictured with her mum, Amanda Bell.
Tanesha Ives pictured with her mum, Amanda Bell.
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SOUTH Yorkshire parents of youngsters with heart problems have hit out at plans to close a children’s heart surgery clinic.

A petition of nearly 2,000 signatures has been set up to halt moves to shut a specialist service at Leeds General Infirmary which treats patients from across the region.

All 11 similar units in England are affected by a review launched following the Bristol baby heart scandal of the 1990s when children died needlessly. An inquiry says children should have heart surgery in fewer, more specialist, centres. A four-month consultation period has begun to decide which centres willclose.

Amanda Bell’s 19-month old daughter Tanesha Ives was born with a congenital heart defect and underwent surgery in Leeds at two weeks old. She returned to the unit last August for a pacemaker fitted.

Amanda, aged 36, from Athersley North, Barnsley, said she was “devastated” the Leeds centre may close.

“Not only has the place saved my little girl’s life but she is going to need more treatment down the line. I don’t want to have to travel 100 miles for her to get treatment, and what if there is an emergency? It’s going to be a big risk. They claim new centres will offer better care, but we already have excellent staff and facilities in Leeds.”

Judith Stovell’s 17-year-old son Isaac been treated at the unit for years and now has hopes of studying at Oxford.

His mum, 45, from Nether Edge, Sheffield, said: “We have spent a lot of time in Leeds and we can’t speak highly enough of it. The care they give is second to none. They saved Isaac’s life. I can’t believe anything can be better.”

Visit www.chsf.org.uk to sign the petition.