ALEXIA’S parents Brett and Aimee are campaigning to keep Yorkshire’s only specialist children’s heart unit open.
The couple, from Ulverston Road, Woodseats, are among hundreds of South Yorkshire families who have benefited from the expertise of the Children’s Heart Surgery Unit at Leeds Infirmary.
Health bosses have proposed closing the unit, which will mean people from Sheffield will have to travel 140 miles to Newcastle.
“Most children who have transposition need follow-up surgery at some point, so we really hope they keep Leeds open,” said Aimee. “Newcastle is a long way to travel and it would make it almost impossible for relatives to visit.”
Families have now been given more time to comment on the plans - and campaigners are urging affected parents to write in before the April 16 deadline.
Sharon Cheng, director of the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, the charity which funds the Leeds unit, said: “With patient choice enshrined at the heart of the NHS’ constitution and the fact that many parents have clearly told us that they will not travel to the unit in Newcastle, I believe our case to retain the unit in Leeds is stronger than ever.”
Sharon is worried even Newcastle could be at risk of closing after Leeds, leaving the whole of northern England without a dedicated children’s heart unit.
She said: “Even if decision makers completely ignore the NHS constitution and trample all over the concept of patient choice, Newcastle will still struggle to get the number of patients it needs.”
To have a say, write to Christy.Rowley@nsct.nhs.uk or Christy Rowley, Safe and Sustainable, National Specialised Commissioning Team, 2nd Floor, Southside, 105 Victoria Street, London SW1E 6QT.