The Press - Charity challenges Archbishop of York over paediatric heart services support

A CHARITY has written to the Archbishop of York claiming he has “reinforced a misconception” by criticising an NHS review which could see children’s heart surgery stopped at a Leeds hospital.

Dr John Sentamu supported the campaign for paediatric heart services to remain at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) during a recent visit there, after the NHS Safe and Sustainable Review said care should be concentrated at fewer sites.

The archbishop said it was “inconceivable” that LGI surgery could end and he did not want to see “a culture of winner-takes-all excellence”.

Anne Keatley-Clarke, chief executive of the Children’s Heart Foundation (CHF), said in an open letter to Dr Sentamu that the charity was “concerned” at his criticisms of the NHS review.

She said the changes would ensure the highest quality of care and were not “cost-cutting”, and the CHF supported the recommendations as it hoped they would “end uncertainty” over heart units.

She wrote: “We feel it is beholden on influential commentators to appraise themselves of the facts before making pronouncements.

“We feel your comments have unfortunately reinforced a misconception which is developing among some parents, which is that units not designated for surgery will not continue to provide… all the other heart services they currently provide. This is not the case.

“We hope you will work towards reconciling the various parties involved, urging all concerned with the care of heart children to work together during this difficult period.”

A spokesman for the archbishop said he would respond privately to Ms Keatley-Clarke.

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