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Campaigners condemn £8 million spent on children's heart services review

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Campaigners have condemned the £8 million spent on a review into the future of children's heart surgery as "outrageous." Figures show the NHS spent just over £1.7 million on external communications consultants and more that £6 million on "other costs." A further £301,000 has been spent by the review team on legal costs for the judicial review brought by campaigners in Leeds. Leicester's Glenfield Hospital and Leeds General Infirmary are among four hospitals earmarked to lose children's heart surgery services. It follows a decision in July last year to cut the number of hospitals in England providing surgery for children born with heart problems from 11 to seven. The costs of the review, which was run by NHS Specialised Services and now comes under the umbrella of NHS England, were revealed in a Parliamentary answer from Health Minister Anna Soubry. Parliamentary colleague Nicky Morgan, MP for Loughborough, said: "This is an awful lot of money and it really shows the need for this process to be concluded fairly and as soon as possible." Adam Tansey, from Burbage whose son Albert was born with half a heart, said: "This is an outrageous amount of money. "What could this have done - how many new surgeons could we have trained, how many lives could have been saved?" The Government's Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP), which has been asked to reassess the review decision, is due to send its findings to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt on Tuesday (April 30). NHS England has launched an appeal against a High Court ruling which ruled in favour of campaigners from Leeds and said consultation in the matter was "legally flawed". Mr Tansey added: "What's more worrying is that NHS England appears to want to continue spending on an appeal against the Leeds decision which will only hold up process. "We need to understand how this was split as the public relations spend is ridiculous. "We also need to understand how much the clinical advisors were paid, in particular people like Roger Boyle who recently stepped down from the process." Campaigner Robyn Lotto said: "I find it unbelievable that this huge sum of money has been spent on the review by the NHS, while families across the country continue to rely on charities to buy the basic provisions that the NHS is 'unable' to provide." Eric Charlesworth, from the former health watchdogs, the Leicester and Leicestershire local involvement networks, said: "How this review seems able to spend this amount of money is staggering. "I hope sense will prevail with the findings of the IRP, that there is no further expenditure of huge amounts and things do move forward." Zuffar Haq, a member of the Leicester Mercury Patients' Panel which gave evidence to the IRP, said: "This whole process has been madness. The cost to the taxpayer and worry to parents is totally unacceptable." A spokesman for NHS England said: "Any significant proposals for change in health services must involve clinicians, patients and the public in a meaningful way. "The public consultation on Safe and Sustainable attracted over 75,000 responses making it the largest consultation in the history of the NHS."

Campaigners condemn £8 million spent on children's heart services review


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