The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Leeds hospital chosen to perform specialist walking surgery for children with cerebral palsy

17 July 2014

NHS England have approved Leeds Teaching Hospitals to be one of just five national centres to carry out a highly specialised operation to help improve the walking ability of certain children with cerebral palsy.

Consultant neurosurgeon Mr John Goodden has successfully carried out a number of operations – called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) - on young patients in Leeds Children’s Hospital at Leeds General Infirmary.

Leeds is one of very few specialist centres in the UK with the medical expertise to undertake the procedure. But NHS funding has been a major hurdle, with some patients having to raise tens of thousands of pounds to travel to the United States to have the operation performed privately.

NHS policy was that the evidence did not demonstrate sufficient effectiveness for its routine use. Now NHS England has agreed that it will fund the surgery under a programme that allows the benefits to be evaluated by opening up access more widely.

Mr Goodden said today: “This is a hugely important change. We are delighted to be working with NHS England to deliver SDR. This will help change the lives of many children in the North of England because families will have access to SDR without having to raise funds privately.

"We need to give these children every opportunity to fulfil their potential, and the freedom of walking and independent mobility is one of the most important gifts any child can have and has a huge impact on their ability to play, learn and enjoy their life more."

"It is a tremendous accolade for the Leeds team to receive this vote of confidence. Over the past 5 years, the team has worked hard to develop the service to deliver SDR for children with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Yvette Oade said: "Our early research and results are showing very pleasing improvements in function and quality of life as a result of SDR. We look forward to working closely with the NHS England evaluation team to further document the safety, efficacy and outcomes of SDR.

"This is a very positive step towards our vision to become the best in specialist care."

Approval for the surgery in Leeds is the culmination of years of planning and preparation for Mr Goodden, who travelled to St Louis in the US to study the SDR technique.