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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.

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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
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.

WATCH: Patients fight to save children's heart unit in Southampton.

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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

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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.

Ruling on decision that saved Southampton unit

Campaigners in Leeds have won a High Court challenge over proposed changes to children's heart surgery services in England.

Save Our Surgery (SOS), which is trying to stop the closure of the heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary, argued the consultation process leading up to the changes was "unfair and procedurally flawed".

The original decision meant surgery would continue at Southampton Hospital's heart unit.

Today Mrs Justice Nicola Davies, sitting at London's High Court, ruled that the challenge to that decision must succeed - but what the ruling means for the future will be decided at a later date.

This judgment is in itself a victory for the people who fought to keep children's heart surgery services in Yorkshire, and to challenge what they knew to be a flawed and unjust process."

– SOS statement

Heart surgery challenge due

Heart surgery
Heart surgery decision could have implications for Southampton Credit: ITV Meridian

Campaign group Save Our Surgery (SOS), which represents a large number of residents in the Leeds area, wants a rerun of the consultation on where specialist heart units should be based.

Leeds missed out during the consultation - which went in Southampton's favour.

Southampton heart protest
Campaigners at Southampton protest to keep heart surgery Credit: ITV Meridian

Judge Mrs Justice Nicola Davies, sitting in London, said she would use "every endeavour" to get the final judgment out today.

The judge is being asked to declare that the consultation process which led to the changes, including proposals to close the heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary, was unfair and "procedurally flawed".

Ruling due on heart surgery challenge

A decision is expected in the High Court later on the legality of proposed changes to children's heart surgery services.

The ruling, which should be delivered this morning, could have implications for the future of surgery at Southampton General Hospital.

Last year Southampton's Children's Heart Surgery Unit - one of the country's best - had just a 1 in 4 chance of being selected as one of six specialist cardiac centres.

Operations at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford had already been stopped with families there backing Southampton's campaign.

But there was joy as Southampton was chosen as one of the specialist centres.

However, the original ruling could be overturned if a legal challenge is successful.

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