Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is expected to make a statement today on the results of a review into the decision to reorganise children's cardiac services across England. The Royal Brompton in west London is one of the units earmarked for closure.
In a statement, the Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust said:
“Patients and their families will be delighted with this news and it will go some way towards restoring their faith in the NHS.
They have never been able to understand how one of the best performing and largest units in the country was destined for closure, especially when statistics showed that the population in London and the South East was growing much faster than had previously been thought...
...and demand for children’s heart surgery was increasing.
We firmly believe that the best solution is for children’s cardiac services to be delivered through a three-centre network, giving access to the best expertise through close collaborative working.
This would have the added benefit of avoiding significant spending to expand another London centre to deal with Royal Brompton’s patients.
The network would allow experts to work together in the best interests of patients, to deliver outstanding family-centred care from foetal life, through infancy, childhood and adolescence to adult services.
“The tragedy, of course, is that so many families have been caused a great deal of distress by the flawed review of children’s heart surgery.
We owe them a great debt of gratitude for their strong support over the past three years and hope they will receive an apology from those responsible for the Safe and Sustainable process.
Whilerelieved that the IRP (Independent Reconfiguration Panel) recognised the obvious inadequacies of the Safeand Sustainable review, it is highly regrettable that the situationprogressed to such a stage.
Had the review been undertaken in a genuinely open and transparent way, and had the decision on which centres to close not been taken many months before the sham of a public consultation took place, a very different decision would have been reached last July."
Plans to close three children's heart surgery units were today suspended by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Mr Hunt said that plans to close the units in Leeds, Leicester and west London were to be put on hold after an independent review suggested that the consultation process was based on "flawed analysis".
The Safe and Sustainable Review, which concluded that Leeds General Infirmary, Glenfield Hospital in Leicester and the Royal Brompton in west London should stop providing paediatric cardiac surgery, has been heavily criticised and campaigners have fought ferociously against the closures.
Speaking in the Commons, Mr Hunt said he had asked NHS England to continue with the process of looking into the reorganisation of children's heart surgery and asked them to report back by the end of July.
In 2009, officials launched the "safe and sustainable review", conducted by the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) of England, to assess how best to streamline paediatric congenital cardiac surgery services.
The review concluded that expertise was spread too thinly in the 10 sites which house the surgical units and should be concentrated in fewer hospitals.
While experts were deliberating which sites should close, the Royal Brompton in Chelsea, west London - later named as a site earmarked for closure - launched a legal dispute over the consultation process.
The hospital, which is the largest specialist heart and lung centre in the UK, argued that the process was unlawful.
It won a High Court action against the JCPCT in November 2011 - the first time one NHS organisation had taken legal action against another.
But the ruling was overturned by the Court of Appeal in April last year. The Royal Brompton said the proposals could put its future in doubt, but judges ruled that the consultation process was fair.
Last July, officials announced that the Royal Brompton, Leeds General Infirmary and Glenfield Hospital in Leicester would close their units.
The institutions chosen to house the specialist surgery centres were the Evelina Hospital, which is part of Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital Trust, and Great Ormond Street, both in London and units in Southampton, Birmingham, Bristol, Newcastle and Liverpool.
But the move was heavily criticised by medics, campaign groups and the families of children who had used the services at the three sites earmarked for closure.
In October, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt ordered a review into the decision to stop surgery at the three units following pressure from councillors in Lincolnshire and Leicestershire over the closure of the unit at Glenfield.
The Independent Reconfiguration Panel report is due to be published later today.
Campaigners fighting to save a children's heart unit are hoping Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will reverse the decision today.
Mr Hunt is expected to make a statement to the Commons on the results of a review into the decision to reorganise children's cardiac services across England into fewer, more specialised units.
This review was ordered by Mr Hunt following a wave of protest in Yorkshire over the plan to shut the centre at Leeds General Infirmary as well as ones at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester and the Royal Brompton in west London.