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Heart surgery campaign blow
THE campaign to keep children’s heart surgery services in Yorkshire has suffered a blow following a successful appeal against a High Court ruling.
Yesterday the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust in London lost its legal bid to save its children’s heart unit after the Court of Appeal ruled that a national review, recommending its closure, was lawful.
The case has been watched closely by Leeds General Infirmary and York and Selby heart patients who, like the Royal Brompton, face the loss of child heart surgery services in our region.
The Court of Appeal’s decision was immediately condemned by the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund – the charity fighting to keep child heart services at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) against a threatened move to Newcastle.
LGI is included in only one of four options being considered in the NHS’s Safe and Sustainable review, which aims to concentrate specialist medical expertise in fewer, larger centres.
The other three possible outcomes all favour the move to Newcastle.
Fund director Sharon Cheng said she was “disappointed” at the decision, but had received assurances that a fifth option, which favoured Leeds, was now been considered for inclusion by the Joint Chairs of the Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT).
Mrs Cheng said: “Maintaining the Leeds unit is the only way of ensuring a safe and sustainable settlement for the north of England given the issues we have previously put forward regarding patient travel assumptions and minimum operations expectations.
“We actively expect that JCPCT is looking at configuration options which would preserve Leeds.”
Meanwhile Sir Roger Boyle, former national director for heart disease and stroke, and advisor to the Safe and Sustainable panel, said: “Today’s judgment is an important milestone for children with congenital heart disease as it brings improvements to their services a step closer.
“The Court of Appeal has recognised that the process of public consultation – not costly litigation – is the most appropriate way for public bodies to express their views on proposed changes.
“The NHS must ensure that the clinical benefits for children and other patients come first – not the vested interests of individual hospitals.”
The JCPCT will now decide which four or five of England’s 11 paediatric heart surgery units will close.
The final decision is expected on July 4.
For more information on the fight to save heart surgery services in Yorkshire, visit www.chsf.org.uk
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