Suspension of children's heart surgery at Leeds General Infirmary 'was right'
The suspension of children's heart surgery at Leeds General Infirmary was correct, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said.
Mr Hunt was responding to an urgent question in the Commons from Stewart Andrew, the Conservative MP for Pudsey, on 15 April 2013.
Surgery resumed on Wednesday after it was suspended on 28 March, amid NHS claims the hospital had a mortality rate of more than twice the national average.
Mr Andrew has called for an inquiry into the decision.
But Mr Hunt said: "If there is evidence that patient safety is at risk it is absolutely right that the NHS acts quickly and decisively to prevent harm to patients."
Operations were suspended while a review was carried out into concerns about the number of deaths at the hospital because of information about higher-than-usual mortality rates.
Experts questioned the accuracy of the data and at a meeting earlier this month, NHS bosses decided to allow operations to resume.
Mr Hunt also confirmed Sir Roger Boyle, who had leaked the mortality data, would play no further role in the review of where children's heart surgery should be carried out.
Sir Roger is director of the National Institute of Clinical Outcomes Research, which oversees mortality figures across the NHS.
Shadow health minister Andrew Gwynne said: "This has descended into yet another trademark government shambles."
He asked: "Does he [Mr Hunt] accept that the suspension of surgery with all the consequent anxiety this caused patients and staff was at best a mistake and at worst an irresponsible and disproportionate action?"
The decision had "caused a great deal of suspicion in Leeds and [gave] the distinct impression that this was a political decision and not based on clinical evidence", the Labour MP said.
Mr Hunt replied: "I did not authorise this decision but I wholeheartedly supported it because it was an operational decision made by NHS England and it's right that a decision like that should be made by clinicians who understand these things better than we politicians do."
But his coalition colleague, Lib Dem backbencher Greg Mulholland, said: "His response has simply not been good enough considering what has happened during this fiasco."
He added: "Considering that the decision to close children's heart surgery in a safe unit, which is what we now know Leeds always was, puts children at greater risk, so to make a decision of that nature when it was incorrect is simply unacceptable."
The Lib Dem called for a full investigation "including the conduct, the judgement and the motivations of senior NHS officials involved".