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Heart surgery challenge taken to High Court

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A new legal challenge over a decision to close children's heart surgery services at four hospitals was due to begin at the High Court in London today.

Campaign group Save Our Surgery, which is fighting to keep services at Leeds General Infirmary, is seeking a judicial review of the decision, arguing that the consultation process - known as Safe and Sustainable - was unfair.

The infirmary was one of four hospitals, including Leicester's Glenfield Hospital, which has been earmarked to stop surgery for children born with heart problems.

It follows a decision by the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) in July last year to cut the number of hospitals providing the service from 11 to seven.

Sir Neil McKay, chairman of the JCPCT, said: "We listened carefully to the views of the public and of the experts in the field before making our decision, and we concluded that the strongest option for the future configuration of children's heart surgical services did not include Leeds General Infirmary.

"Royal colleges of medicine have welcomed our decision as one that will save more children's lives in the future, and we stand ready to defend our process with confidence."

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has also asked the Government's Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) to review the decision after councillors from Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland asked him to re-think it.

If the decision is allowed to stand it means that children born in the Leicestershire area with heart defects will have to travel to Birmingham for surgery.

The children's specialist Ecmo (extra corporeal membrane oxygenation) treatment would also move from Glenfield.

However, Adam Tansey, founder of the Leicestershire-based charity Keep the Beat, which is among those fighting the decision, said he was sceptical as to whether the Save Our Surgery legal challenge would be successful.

He said: "We think the case we put to the IRP, that the proposal was not adequate to service the needs of the country and the worst affected area was the East Midlands, was a more positive and professional approach."

Heart surgery challenge taken to High Court


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