HEART surgery for children should continue in Yorkshire as well as Newcastle, according to county council health chiefs, who say neither hospital should lose out.

Jim Clark, chairman of North Yorkshire County Council’s health scrutiny committee, said there should now be a campaign to maintain surgery at both sites.

His plea comes following Thursday’s High Court decision to uphold a challenge to the fairness of an NHS plan to move the life-saving service from Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) to Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.

Coun Clark said: “It is still vital that we continue to lobby to keep both Newcastle and Leeds. The cardiac unit at Leeds General Infirmary serves a very large geographic area, and it is totally unreasonable to expect people to travel three hours or more to get the kind of cardiac care to which they are entitled.”

He said: “We have said to the Secretary of State for Health that neither Leeds nor Newcastle is broken, and neither needs fixing. The retention of both is essential to ensure that patient care continues to be delivered in the most effective way possible.”

Meanwhile, the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle said it was confident the original decision to centre paediatric surgery services there would “in due course be upheld”.

The centre of the recent legal battle has been the argument that Yorkshire families would have much further to travel in emergency situations if services were moved from Leeds to the Tyneside.

A spokesman for the Freeman said: “We are disappointed that the implementation of the review will be further delayed by this litigation.

"However we remain confident that the original decision will in due course be upheld and the Freeman Hospital will be one of the designated centres providing specialist children’s cardiac surgery, for which our performance and very high quality is recognised internationally.”