A new legal challenge begins today over proposals to change the provision of children's heart surgery across England. The highly controversial plans involve stopping operations at three hospitals including Leeds General Infirmary.
Children in the area will instead have to travel to Newcastle or Liverpool for surgery. Campaign group Save Our Surgery (SOS) is seeking a judicial review, arguing the consultation process was unfair and legally flawed.
If SOS wins its action there may have to be a rethink on delivering paediatric cardiac surgery nationwide. The two other units currently facing closure are at Leicester's Glenfield Hospital and London's Royal Brompton. The Brompton recently lost its own application for judicial review.
The Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) decided care should be concentrated at fewer, larger sites to improve standards and chose units at Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Southampton and two London centres. Sharon Cheng, from SOS, said:
"Taking legal action has always been our last resort option pursued only after all other appeals to review the decision were rejected by the JCPCT. At the end of the day, this is about protecting the lives of children and this is why we believe that the challenges to NHS officials should be heard."