PERFORMANCE: The British Congenital Cardiac Association has criticised the release of “raw” and “unverified” data about outcomes from children’s heart surgery at Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust.

Children’s heart surgery was suspended by the trust at the request of NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh last week. It followed shortly after a High Court ruling which challenged national reconfiguration plans which would have closed the unit.

Sir Bruce said he had acted after concerns were raised with him by surgeonsm, and in response to information about outcomes.

In a statement today BCCA president Tony Salmon said: “As a result of the fact that the data has not undergone stringent checks, the suggestion that there is a higher than expected mortality rate in Leeds or any other centre, is premature.

“Currently, the British Congenital Cardiac Association is not aware of any centres having a higher than expected mortality.”

He criticised the leaking of “raw” and “unverified” data which saw the suspension of children’s cardiac surgical services at the trust.

Dr Salmon said: “For the clinicians who have worked tirelessly to support the Central Cardiac Audit Database and the patients who depend on it, it is essential that information is released only after the standard safeguards have been applied. Failure to do so will severely undermine the confidence that the clinicians and public have invested in this important process.”

He also warned there could be knock-on effects as a result of the “under-provision” in the north following the suspension.

Leeds was one of three centres which a joint committee of primary care trusts decided to remove services from last year, under a nationals service change plan. Campaigners had won a reprieve in a High Court ruling last week.

A joint statement from NHS England and Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust this morning said: “Following a constructive meeting at 8am this morning between NHS England, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust and the NHS Trust Development Authority; it was agreed that there would be further information shared today and  talks between the parties will continue.

“Our first consideration is patient safety and the arrangements put in place over the bank holiday weekend have been effective. These arrangements will continue for the time being .We are trying to resolve this as quickly as possible in the best interests of patients.”