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Over the past few weeks, dozens of volunteers and activists have taken to the streets of Leeds in an effort to stop the planned closure of the Children’s Heart Surgery Unit at Leeds General Infirmary as part of a planned national reconfiguration of the NHS.

Michael Johnson, Leeds City Socialist Party

The Children’s Heart Surgery Unit currently provides its services for all of Yorkshire, Humber and North Derbyshire, if closed thousands of seriously ill children (with 370 needing to undergo open heart surgery and 40% needing long-term care) and their families will be forced to travel huge distances to the closest heart unit. Both their physical and mental well-being would be seriously affected by the closure, just from the stress of travelling alone. And this doesn’t ever take into account the financial costs travelling to these distances would have, not only on the families but also on the NHS!

To stop this the Save Our Surgery group has created a petition to show Ministers the support these Heart Unit has and has until November 2011 to collect 500000 signatures. To sign the petition online go to: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/6/help-to-save-ward-10-childrens-cardiac-lgi/

Save Our Surgery are also asking for people to lobby their MPs and to attend a public consultation meeting Tuesday 10th May at 3pm-5pm or 6pm-8pm at the Royal Armouries (go to http://www.thepetitionsite.com/6/help-to-save-ward-10-childrens-cardiac-lgi/ to register).

However, this is not the only action needed, the closure of such this service is a clear part of the government’s privatisation through the back-door agenda. By removing a vital, much used local service they are creating a clear opportunity for private companies to come in and produce a distorted, profit-driven replacement. And even if the Children’s Heart Unit is saved, while this agenda is in place many other NHS services will still be under threat.

As such, we call for:

  • An end to the cuts and a fully funded, publicly owned NHS
  • An end to privatisation-through-the-back-door through GP consortiums and other methods
  • A return of privatised health services back to publicly funded, NHS services
  • United action to defend the NHS involving trade unions, anti-cuts groups and service users.