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Leeds Hospital Children's Heart Unit 'Safe'
A children's heart surgery centre that was temporarily shut last year over mortality rate fears is safe, a comprehensive review has found.
But NHS England and Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) apologised after the report outlined complaints from 16 families who said they had experienced poor care at the paediatric cardiology unit.
The report was in two parts - a statistical analysis of mortality rates, centred on the 35 children who died following surgery between 2009 to last March, and a report on 16 families who said they felt let down by the unit.
Some parents said there had been a lack of compassion after they lost a child, while a Muslim woman told how she felt pressured to have an abortion, which went against her religious beliefs.
NHS England said in its overview of the report: "We conclude that these families did not get the level of care or service that they deserved and for this we are truly sorry."
Operations at the unit were suspended for more than a week last year after NHS England raised concerns about data on death rates at the centre.
The decision sparked controversy, with some parents and doctors suggesting it was linked to plans for some children's heart surgery units to be closed as part of a nationwide restructuring.
After a fierce campaign by some parents whose children were treated at the LGI and two legal challenges, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt halted the plan and ordered NHS England to re-evaluate the whole process.
Surgery resumed at the LGI unit on April 10 last year.
Dr Yvette Oade, the chief medical officer at Leeds Teaching Hospitals, said: "We are pleased for our patients, families and staff that the Mortality Case Review has confirmed the medical and surgical care provided by the children's heart surgery unit in Leeds is safe.
"We are very sorry however that the 16 families who shared their stories with the Family Experience Review felt we did not provide the care they had a right to expect.
"We sincerely apologise to those families and will, of course, ensure we learn from what they had to say and improve our services as a result of this."
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