Heart unit closures suspended

Plans to close three children's heart units have been suspended by the Health Secretary. Jeremy Hunt said the decision to close the units would be put on hold after a review suggested that a consultation was based on "flawed analysis".

Latest ITV News reports

Patients celebrate decision to keep heart units open

Health campaigners and patients have been celebrating the decision to suspend the planned closure of three childrens' heart units.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt dramatically stepped in to save the centres in Leeds, Leicester and London, but warned that their future and that of seven others in England remain uncertain.

ITV News correspondent Paul Davies reports:

Read: Heart unit campaigner: 'They're finally listening to us'

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Heart unit campaigner: 'They're finally listening to us'

Save Our Surgery activist and former patient Joe Barry, 16, said he was glad about the decision to suspend the closure of his local heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary.

"If I was born and this unit wasn't here I wouldn't have survived [the journey] to Newcastle," he said.

Former patient and now Save Our Surgery campaigner Joe Barry, aged 16, at Leeds General Infirmary
Former patient and now Save Our Surgery campaigner Joe Barry, aged 16, at Leeds General Infirmary Credit: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

"It saved my life and I can't let this happen to anyone else.

"The news today, it's great. All the things that we've put forward to have a look at, it's all happening. After three years of fighting they're finally listening to us."

Lisa Rushworth and son Jack
Lisa Rushworth and son Jack Credit: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

Lisa Rushworth, whose son Jack was treated at Leeds, said she hoped the hospital would now have a chance to make its case based "on more statistics and actual facts".

Jack, 11, said: "They've looked after me really well."

Campaigners 'vindicated' by child heart unit decision

Members of the Save Our Surgery campaign group have welcomed the decision not to close a childrens' heart unit in Leeds.

Spokeswoman Sharon Cheng said that the Health Secretary's comments earlier today "completely vindicated" the stand taken by the group:

We are pleased and relieved that the Health Secretary has decided that a new review is necessary before NHS England can decide where children’s heart surgery services should reside in England and Wales.

His comments about the Safe & Sustainable process and outcome completely vindicate the action that we took to challenge this, and demonstrate that exposing the flaws in the review was the right and necessary thing to do ...

The trauma experienced by patients and families across our Region throughout the Safe & Sustainable process, as acknowledged by the Health Secretary, must never be repeated.

– Sharon Cheng, Save Our Surgery

Heart hospitals buy time as Hunt suspends review

Campaigners demanding that their local children's heart surgery hospitals in England remain open won a partial victory today as the Health Secretary suspended a controversial review.

Jeremy Hunt admitted the initial decision to close units in Leeds, London and Leicester was based on faulty data.

But he said the review would be revisited and that some services would still have to shut.

ITV News reporter Martha Fairlie explains more:

Hunt: Clinical case for change remains

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was clear the clinical case for changes to how children's heart surgery units are run remains, despite today's suspension of plans to close three units.

Speaking to the House of Commons, Mr Hunt said the independent review he instigated, following complaints from units where closure was recommended, still stressed the "case for change."

Read: Plans to close children's heart surgery units suspended

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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.

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.

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

Child heart surgery unit closures review due

The results of a review into the future of children's heart surgery at three hospitals in England is expected to be published later today.

Last year, the NHS revealed plans to end surgery at Leeds General Infirmary, Glenfield Hospital in Leicester and the Royal Brompton in west London.

However, after legal challenges and public opposition to the plans, the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt ordered the review in October.

The decision to stop heart surgery on children at certain hospitals has been controversial. Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Read: Child heart units in Leicester, Leeds, and London to stop surgery

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