Page last updated at 16:32 GMT, Monday, 24 October 2011 17:32 UK

Health plans attacked at question time

Child heart surgery and nursing standards have been placed under the microscope by peers during questions to the government in the daily half-hour question session.

Several peers voiced fears over the possible closure of the child's heart surgery centre in Leeds following a question from the Lord Bishop of Ripon and Leeds on 24 October 2011.

The NHS is currently reviewing how it delivers congenital heart services to children in England and Wales. The review is likely to recommend that surgical expertise should be concentrated in fewer locations, which would mean shutting some clinics.

Crossbencher Baroness Masham of Ilton said deprivation in north-west England made it particularly important that there should be a child heart surgery centre there. Shadow health minister Baroness Thornton noted that if the Leeds centre were to close, parents from Yorkshire would have to travel to Newcastle to visit their children in hospital.

But health minister Earl Howe thought it "unwise to comment in too much detail" while proposals are still being examined.

Earl Howe highlighted that the review had ranked the Leeds service 10th out of 11. This places it only above the John Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford, where the child heart surgery unit was suspended over safety worries in 2010.

The health minister faced further criticism in the next question, from Labour's Baroness Wall of New Barnet.

Baroness Wall took the government to task over an article in The Times suggesting nurses who had been struck off would be allowed to practise as healthcare assistants. She said the reports would cause "worry and concern".

Earl Howe insisted "There is no blanket prescription in this area. One has to look at the competencies and whether they are safe to work with adults."

The session ended with questions from two more Labour peers: Lord Warner on the abolition of the Youth Justice Board and Baroness Gould of Potternewton on sex and relationships education in schools.

Story Tools

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific