Verdict on heart unit put on hold

DECISION makers have delayed their verdict on whether to end surgery at the children’s heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary.

The delay is due to the Joint Chairs of the Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) being granted additional time to appeal the High Court judge’s decision that ruled the consultation, carried out last year, as flawed and inaccurate.

This ongoing appeal process is in response to the Judicial Review by the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, based in London, which is currently being heard by the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal Judge has ordered that the appeals should now take place on March 19 or 20.

This latest delay causes further uncertainty to thousands of families across the region as the fate of the unit will not be decided until after a decision is announced on the Royal Brompton hospital.

The decision about the Yorkshire unit was initially expected in November 2011.

Children’s Heart Surgery Fund is the charity working with parents, doctors and MPs across Yorkshire to fight the closure of the unit in Leeds.

Director, Sharon Cheng, said: “There is a lot going on behind the scenes to fight the closure of the unit which provides life saving facilities to families from across the region and we will continue to do everything we can.

“This delay is another set-back to families who are desperate to find out whether they will be forced to travel potentially hundreds of miles for treatment but we urge parents to be patient and continue to support us in our fight to save our surgery. For the Yorkshire unit, there is everything still to fight for.”

The review, being carried out by the NHS’ Safe and Sustainable, could see facilities in Leeds closed down and moved to Newcastle, or even one unit in Liverpool remaining open to deliver services to the entire North of England.

The facility currently provides services to 5.5 million people, with a population of 14 million within a two hour drive of Leeds.

Widespread support for the unit has been seen from parents, patients and stakeholders since the campaign began, including 600,000 people who signed a petition in support of the unit in Leeds City Centre.

One of these parents was Mary Dennison, whose son Jack’s life was saved by the unit.

The Rastrick mum has been campaigning to keep the unit open and set up several petitions including asking people for their help at last year’s Brighouse Charity Gala.

Mary, a teacher at St Joseph’s RC Primary School said moving the unit would also mean long journeys for pre-ops and reviews and relatives who wanted to visit loved ones.

For more information on the fight to save the vital services in Yorkshire visit www.chsf.org.uk