THE PRIME MINISTER STILL REFUSES TO LISTEN – TO THE VIEWS OF OVER 300,000 PETITIONERS ….
“SAVE our surgery – and have a heart.” That was the emotional plea from hundreds of parents at a rally protesting over the threat to children’s heart surgery in Leeds. Supporters donning Save Our Surgery t-shirts and waving placards descended on Clarence Dock to demonstrate outside two consultation meetings.The campaigners are outraged over proposals which could see the Leeds General Infirmary unit close as part of a national shake-up.One family say they have the Leeds heart experts to thank for getting their poorly son home at all.Steph Ward, mum to 22-month-old Lyall Cookward who has a heart condition and is on a permanent ventilator, said: “I think the most poignant thing for us is that a year ago today we were told he would never come home – and now we are here.“It’s all these people from the LGI that did it for us. The argument for Leeds is so logical. Geographically, it has co-location of services, there’s a seamless service from maternity to adults, it just speaks for itself.”
Lyall and his family were among supporters who released a sea of red balloons into the sky at yesterday’s rally.Tory MP for Pudsey Stuart Andrew told the crowd: “When I heard there was a plan to close the heart unit I thought someone had lost their common sense. The fact that Leeds only features in one of the options is to my mind utter madness.”Sharon Cheng, director of the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund which is running the campaign, told parents she had been “overwhelmed” by their backing. Hundreds have helped the Save Our Petition to reach 300,000 signatures.Joanne Lancaster’s four-year-old son Toby had surgery at LGI and will need a further operation.The mum, from Stanley near Wakefield, said: “It’s important because Leeds has got everything under one roof. Toby is quite a complex child. It’s not just about his heart – he had a stroke last year. If Leeds closed, our closest unit would be Liverpool but they want us to go to Newcastle.”
Nazakat Ali, from Dewsbury, has seen his 19-month-old daughter Hawa operated on at LGI for a heart problem. He and his family wanted to come to the consultation meeting but had been unable to register online in advance.Ayesha Ali, Hawa’s aunt, said: “If we had to go to Newcastle it would be really hard. Here everything is in one unit – in Newcastle it would be separate.”Graham Dixon, of Bramley, Leeds, was there with 14-year-old son Sebastian, a heart patient. “It does not make sense at all,” he said.
By Katie Baldwin
YORKSHIRE EVENING POST
Published on Wednesday 11 May 2011 08:47