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Heart unit legal action attacked
THE man behind the controversial decision to move children’s heart surgery out of our region said he was “hugely disappointed” that a legal battle was being launched against the plan.
Last month the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF) announced it was collecting money for a legal fighting fund to mount a challenge to the NHS’s Safe And Sustainable Review, which ruled paediatric heart surgery should move from Leeds General Infirmary to Newcastle.
However, Sir Neil McKay, chairman of the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts, stood by the decision and said parents had already waited too long for the changes. He also promised a “robust defence” to any legal challenge.
He said: “We believe our decision – backed by professional associations and national charities – was the right one to ensure high quality sustainable services for the future. By pooling surgical expertise and expanding care closer to home, we will improve outcomes and clinicians will save more children’s lives.”
Explaining the panel’s decision, he said: “Of the 11 hospitals assessed, the centre in Leeds was ranked in the bottom three overall. A detailed scoring process was undertaken and options with Leeds in them consistently scored lower than those containing the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.
“However, our decision was not made solely on the scores. We made our decision having carefully considered Sir Ian Kennedy’s 150-page report, knowing there are material differences between the hospitals and remembering Sir Ian’s words that mediocrity must not be our benchmark for the future.
“We will mount a robust defence of the decision making process to ensure these vital changes are implemented as soon as possible.”
CHSF director Sharon Cheng said: “We have tried every route to ensure our case is heard. It is with regret and reluctance we have had to consider judicial review.”
As time is not on our side we have had to explore all the options available to us and we have been advised we have a compelling case which we may decide to pursue to secure the future of the unit for parents and families.”