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Families dismayed over children's heart surgery review

Families have been left dismayed tonight that, just a year after they fought to save children's heart surgery in the South, its future is again in doubt.

Southampton General Hospital, working with the John Radcliffe in Oxford, found out last July it had been chosen as one of seven centres of excellence and would remain open - while three others elsewhere in the country learned they had lost their fight and would close.

But today the review that led to those decisions was described by the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt as flawed - and there are concerns about what happens now. Social Affairs Correspondent Christine Alsford has been following the story.

Package also includes WInchester MP Steve Brine.

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NHS England welcomes children's heart unit decision

NHS England welcomed Jeremy Hunt's decision to suspend planned closures of three children's heart surgery units and promised to lead plans to rethink how care can be improved.

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director for NHS England said:

We welcome the review and NHS England will now study its recommendations in full to learn from them. We will institute a new process that recognises the very strong case for redesigning services to meet the demands of the future whilst addressing the legitimate concerns in our local communities.

Future of Southampton heart unit not clear

The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has told parliament that a review of children's heart surgery units across the UK was based on flawed analysis.

The process to close three hospitals will now be suspended pending a further review by the government.

Jeremy Hunt did not make clear what impact this will have on Southampton General Hospital's heart unit.

The government still insists that larger specialist centres are needed improve the quality of children's heart surgery in the UK.

The Health Secretary insisted that the suspension was not 'a mandate for the status quo' and that NHS England would 'not seek to go over old ground over the past five years'.

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Plans to close children's heart surgery units suspended

Plans to close three children's heart surgery units were suspended by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt today.

Addressing the House of Commons he said the review was based on "flawed analysis", saying:

The outcome of safe and sustainable review was based on a flawed analysis..and leaves too many questions about sustainability and implementation. This is serious criticism.

I therefore accept their recommendation that the proposals cannot go ahead in their current form, and am suspending the review today.

Campaigners await heart surgery review

Protesters voice their concerns outside Southampton General Hospital Credit: ITV News Meridian

The results of an independent review into the decision to stop children's heart surgery at three hospitals in England will be published later.

Southampton General is one of seven chosen to be a specialist centre. The review is expected to be critical of the process used to select the dedicated hospitals.

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Child heart surgery unit decisions made last July

Last July, the decision was taken to close three of the 10 specialist child heart surgery units in England in a move to streamline paediatric heart services.

Leeds General Infirmary, Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, and the Royal Brompton in Chelsea, west London were earmarked for closure

The seven hospitals where it was decided surgery on children would continue were:

  • Great Ormond Street in London
  • Evelina Children's Hospital in London
  • Freeman Hospital in Newcastle
  • Birmingham's Children's Hospital
  • Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool
  • Royal Hospital for Children in Bristol
  • Southampton General Hospital

Hospital campaigners fear 'new fight'

Six months ago they were celebrating victory in the battle to keep children's heart surgery in Southampton - tonight campaigners fear they may be facing a new fight.

A High Court judge has ruled that last year's nationwide review into heart services was "fundamentally flawed". The case was brought by mothers in Leeds where the cardiac unit is due to close.

Southampton had been chosen as one of seven centres of excellence - but will it remain one? Kerry Swain reports and speaks to concerned mother Claire Keating.

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Heart Unit campaigners: "doesn't necessarily mean the heart surgery is saved"

Save Our Surgery spokeswoman Sharon Cheng said outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London today's ruling did not necessarily mean the Leeds heart unit was saved, and much would depend on what orders the judge decided to make when the matter returns to court later this month.

One possibility is that the judge will order fresh consultations, which could throw plans for the reorganisation of children's heart surgery around the country into delay and disarray.

We have won this case on every point.

It doesn't necessarily mean the heart surgery is saved, but fresh reconsideration will have to be given as to what is to happen next and the fight will go on.

We knew it was time to fight because of the strength of feeling of families.

The campaign started small, like David and Goliath, then grew and grew out of all proportions.

– Sharon Cheng, Save our Surgery
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