Leeds heart unit adviser urged to quit over review comments

Director of the National Institute for Clinical Outcomes Research says care at the centre is 'on the edge of acceptability'

A top doctor is under pressure to resign from his role in a review of children’s heart surgery, after saying he would not allow his own daughter to be operated on at Leeds General Infirmary.

Campaigners who fought to get the hospital’s paediatric heart unit reopened were appalled at the comment by Professor Sir Roger Boyle, director of the National Institute for Clinical Outcomes Research which oversees NHS mortality data. Their calls for Sir Roger to resign from the review were backed by Sir Bruce Keogh, medical director of the NHS.

Surgery at the hospital’s paediatric heart unit was suspended in March over concerns about its death rate, but was reopened on Wednesday after an assessment of its performance.

But in a radio interview yesterday morning Sir Roger described the hospital as “right on the edge of acceptability” and said he would not want his daughter treated there. “I would go somewhere else,” he said.

During a subsequent interview on BBC Leeds, Sir Bruce was asked whether Sir Roger’s comments meant he should stand down from his role as an adviser to the Safe and Sustainable Review into how children’s heart surgery should best be run. “I think the answer to that is yes,” he responded. He added: “Roger Boyle has done more for the improvement of heart disease than anyone since the inception of the NHS. And that’s why a number of people were puzzled by these remarks.”

One supporter of Leeds Infirmary – Sharon Cheng, of Save Our Surgery (SOS) – said: “For some time we have questioned Sir Roger’s objectivity.

“He has proved that the whole safe and sustainable review was pre-determined. He should be removed from further involvement with the reconfiguration of children’s heart surgery units.”