In Leeds on Monday the 23rd of July 2012 around 2500 residents of the care area came out to support the SOS (Save Our Surgery) campaign. The campaign is targeted at retaining a children’s heart surgery service in Leeds, in the face of closures.

Andy Smith – Leeds North West Socialist Party

There is lots to consider when looking into the children’s cardiac surgery unit at Leeds and the local press this campaign has generated goes to show the strong feeling generated around this campaign. In the face of reviews of quality of service, it was recently revealed that the original report calling for the closure of the children’s cardiac unit at Leeds was based on false assumptions. There is a general feeling that not only is this the wrong position but even politicians seem to have realised this is the case and have raised it in parliament.

The main point in this campaign is that the original working group suggested it would be safer and more efficient to move the service to Newcastle. This was suggested to increase the potential for care provision and provide greater focus of care from the highly limited number of specialist surgeons. There are significant arguments against this though, not least of all, Leeds is actually a perfectly good service that can more than provide the service required, to ensure the safety of patients and with a maternity unit attached to Leeds General Infirmary, many parents were there to give their account of the excellent service they received at Leeds.

The most significant feeling gained from this demo of several thousand, was that the staff and parents who have either got children receiving care or have in the past, feel a strong bond and massive gratitude to the unit that already exists. This cannot be simply a response from parents with a loyalty to care providers, given the massive response from people from all over the region. People, parents, staff and patients have united to send a strong message that the original report was wrong and that this unit should stay open.

The Socialist Party obviously feel very strongly about the NHS, closures and quality reviews. The original report, based on quality and care was suggested to gauge how efficient each unit was and reduce costs where possible and maximise potential provision and was welcomed by the unit. Several members of the campaign made their feeling that this report was welcomed, showing their genuine interest in providing the greatest care. However, the Socialist Party would suggest that given the turnout and the well-reasoned pleas of people from Newcastle, Birmingham, Liverpool and Leeds, that there is obviously a requirement for an increase in spending in this area and many other areas within the NHS. NHS staff are notoriously committed to providing the best service they can, the least the state can do, is allow them to do this where they are needed and not where a review board dictates we can afford to provide provision. Since there is a need to have these units available in each of the places listed above, then surely the funds can be found to ensure each unit is properly staffed and provisioned.

The Socialist Party also feel that all NHS cuts are totally unnecessary and that the money exists to fully fund the expansion of the NHS to meet the needs of everyone and to maintain its original mandate of free at the point of delivery, whatever the condition. It is hoped that this marks the beginning of several campaigns to save the NHS, even if that must be one cut at a time.