Leeds Hospital Victim's Mother Wants Answers

Frazer Maude, North Of England Correspondent

The mother of a young girl who died following heart surgery at Leeds General Infirmary has said she wants to know how and why her daughter died.

Siobhan Casey, from Rossington near Doncaster, has written to the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust with a list of 27 issues that she wants them to address following the death of her four-year-old daughter Mylee.

Mylee had surgery to remove a build up of muscle on her heart that was restricting blood flow on March 15. Several hours after the four-hour operation, Mylee began to show stroke-like symptoms of stiffness down one side of her body.

Her mother said she wasn't informed straight away, and there was a gap of 13 hours between the symptoms being noticed and Mylee being given a CT scan.

The scan showed two areas of brain damage, prompting doctors to perform emergency surgery to remove blood clots. The next day an MRI scan showed more extensive brain damage, and on March 21, Mylee died.

"I want answers to why it happened," said Ms Casey. "Answers to why she wasn't treated more effectively and quicker than she was."

She also claims that staff on the unit were discourteous, unsympathetic and not fully trained in treating head injuries.

The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust told Sky News it cannot discuss the clinical details of individual cases, but did issue a statement, saying: "We extend our deepest sympathy to Mylee's family and have been speaking to her mother about the family's concerns and have arranged a meeting with her next week to discuss these further. In such circumstances families understandably want to ask many questions and we will do everything possible to help."

Two weeks ago operations in the children's heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary were suspended by NHS England when figures suggested the unit had an uncommonly high death rate.

That data was later found to be flawed, and surgery partially resumed earlier this week.

NHS England have apologised for any inconvenience the decision to suspend surgery may have caused, but not for making the decision.

Earlier this week, the deputy director of medical services for NHS England, Mike Bewick, said the unit had been investigated in detail during the 11-day period that surgery was suspended for.

He said that investigation had shown that "it was obvious that the unit is completely safe".

The unit is still under scrutiny by NHS England, which will now look into the hospital's handling of data, and into the way they deal with patient complaints. There will also be a review of patient case notes for the past three years.

Campaigners recently succeeded in their bid to have the High Court quash part of a review into children's cardiac surgeries in England that had initially earmarked the Leeds unit for closure. That would mean hundreds of patients would have to be treated in Newcastle, Birmingham or Liverpool.

The judge in the case ruled that the consultation process which led to the NHS deciding which units to close was legally flawed and unfair.

Some of the campaigners maintain that the suspension of surgery just 24 hours after the ruling was a political move deliberately aimed at undermining the credibility of the unit.

They are now calling for a full investigation into the NHS's decision.

Child surgery lawyer Laurence Vick told Sky News: "The families do need to know that their concerns are being addressed and so far their worries are that they haven't been and all the attention has been on the successful outcomes rather than the unsuccessful ones.

"They feel like they are the forgotten families in all of this."