Minor victory for heart surgery campaigners

A High Court judge has quashed part of an NHS consultation process relating to the future of heart surgery at Leeds General Infirmary.

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NHS to consider grounds for appeal

Sir Neil McKay CB, Chair of the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts, said:

Following today’s ruling, we are strongly considering our grounds for appeal. The NHS remains as determined as ever to reconfigure children’s heart services. The NHS will of course study the ruling carefully and its implications. The Judge was very clear that she was not advocating a return to the start of the review process. I am pleased that the Judge has upheld our decisions in relation to the quality standards and the model of care.

We will give due consideration to the judgment and will advise people of the next steps in the process at the beginning of April. We will aim to reach a final decision in June 2013, pending the outcome of the separate IRP process. The expert view remains that the longer vested interests delay this process, the greater the risk of safety concerns manifesting in the units.

I never forget that the purpose of our work is saving lives and improving quality of life for children, and on behalf of the NHS I want to reassure families, patients and clinicians that we remain as determined as ever to reconfigure services for children with congenital heart disease in the interests of better outcomes and a more safe and sustainable service for children and their families. The decision we took in July last year will help save children’s lives, reduce co-morbidities and ensure ongoing care is provided closer to many families’ homes.”

– Sir Neil McKay CB, Chair of the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts,

Campaigners "delighted" with result

Chair of the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) for Yorkshire and the Humber, Councillor John Illingworth said:

“We are absolutely delighted with this result, and I would like to thank everyone that campaigned so hard and worked together so effectively to ensure that the correct decision was made. The judgement today has shown that we were right to challenge the lack of transparency, lack of probity and lack of effectiveness.

All the work that has gone into this campaign confirms what we already knew, that the consultation process used in the decision-making process was flawed. Today’s judgement supports the view of the Joint Committee, as stated in its report in October 2011, that the detail of the Kennedy sub-scores should have been made available during the initial public consultation. This really is fantastic news and the victory is well deserved. More importantly this is the right decision for local people who have campaigned so hard to keep a key health facility for poorly children in the city open.

– Councillor John Illingworth

Partial victory for heart surgery campaigners

A High Court judge has quashed part of an NHS consultation process to decide the future of children's heart surgery in Leeds. Mrs Justice Nicola Davies acted after recently ruling that the process was legally flawed in relation to the decision to close the unit at Leeds General Infirmary.

The judge said aspects of the Leeds consultations, including a failure to make relevant information available to consultees, was "ill judged". But she stressed she was only quashing "one part" of the JCPCT decision so that there could be "re-consultation and reconsideration" over the Leeds closure.

The judge emphasised that she was not ordering that the whole consultation process had to return to the start. Her decision was a qualified victory for Save Our Surgery (SOS), which represents some 600,000 residents in the Leeds area fighting to keep their unit open.

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