Heart surgery campaigners win court fight

Campaigners have won their High Court battle against the decision to close the children’s heart surgery unit at Leeds General Infirmary.

The ruling handed down by a judge last week, found in favour of Save Our Surgery (SOS) in that the process used by decision-makers Joint Committee of Primary Care Trust (JCPCT) was unlawful.

Sharon Cheng of SOS said: “The judgment finally confirms what we have always believed; that the JCPCTs’ review process and decision to remove children’s heart surgery services from Leeds was unlawful. Winning this case in the High Court proves once and for all that the supposed consultation was a rubber stamping exercise conducted with an outcome in mind, with clinicians, MPs and patients fooled into thinking they had influence.”

Sir Neil McKay CB, chair of the JCPCT said he was disappointed. “The pressing need to reform children’s heart services is long overdue and experts have cautioned that further delay in achieving the necessary change would be a major set back in improving outcomes for children with heart disease.”

Another hearing in two weeks time will decide on the remedy. The decision to close Leeds is also the subject of an independent review - ordered by the Secretary of State for Health - which is expected to be completed by the end of March.