Children's heart unit battle

Newcastle's Freeman Hospital is taking on extra referrals because children's heart surgery is suspended at Leeds General Infirmary.

Latest ITV News reports

Statement: Care Quality Commission

The Leeds Hospitals NHS Trust they have taken the decision to temporarily pause children's congenital cardiac surgery and associated interventions while a review is conducted, a process they aim to complete in around three weeks.

The Care Quality Commission says it supports the decision.

"We support the Trust's decision to carry out a review of their children's heart surgery unit and to put existing activity on hold pending the outcome of the review. We are in close contact with the trust to ensure effective arrangments are in place to protect the safety and welfare of patients during the period of of the review. We are monitoring the situation extremely closely and will not hesitate to take regulatory action if we believe this is required."

– Care Quality Commission

Confirmed: Children's heart surgery suspended at Leeds

The Leeds Hospitals NHS Trust has confirmed that children's heart surgery has been suspended with immediate effect. the Chief Executive has apologised to the parents and families affected.

"We have taken the decision to temporarily pause children's congenital cardiac surgery and associated interventions while this review is conducted, a process we would aim to complete in around three weeks. We apologise to parents and families who will be affected during this time, and can assure them we always put the safety of our patients first.

"It is really important to us that the review is done as speedily and comprehensively as possible which, of course, we hope will show the services in Leeds to be safe."

– Maggie Boyle, Chief Executive of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

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Full Report: Further delay as High Court heart unit battle continues

A High Court judge has ruled that plans to move children's heart surgery from Leeds to Newcastle must be put on hold.

It follows a ruling earlier this month that the consulation process was unlawful.

Both sides will now be given the chance to put their case to the decision makers once again.

However, while it is a minor victory for campaigners in Leeds, parents and surgeons in Newcastle say that the delay will cost lives.

You can watch the full report from Kenny Toal below.

Statement from Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has released a statement after the High Court today passed a judgement determining the need for further consultation about the future of children's heart services in the region.

"The impact of such legal procrastination has serious consequences for the NHS serving only to frustrate and delay what needs to be done and quickly.

"The outcome was not unexpected.

"Sadly so much time and money is being wasted."

– Sir Leonard Fenwick, Chief Executive

"Having said that, there are democratic rights which can be exercised however we are not prepared to drown in a sea of semantic pollution hence shall continue to put the children and parents first and foremost in all that we do because no matter the claims and counter claims, Newcastle as a centre with such a comprehensive service portfolio shall be working towards what this is all about - a safe and sustainable service in the national interest.

"So much so, our ongoing investments including additional skilled staff recruitment are now well underway."

– Sir Leonard Fenwick, Chief Executive

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"This is about providing the best possible care"

Leslie Hamilton has been involved with the Safe and Sustainable review since the outset.

A cardiac surgeon, he spent 15 years working in the children's heart unit at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

Mr Hamilton told ITV News that this was always going to be a difficult decision - but it is a decision that is being made to provide the best possible care.

"I don't care whether Newcastle stays open - I care about whether my child lives or dies"

Ivan Hollingsworth's son Seb is a heart patient at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital.

Mr Hollingsworth has campaigned vigorously for the unit in Newcastle to remain open, but told ITV News that the focus should be on the children who desperately need the heart services rather than whether it is Leeds or Newcastle who keep their unit.

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NHS to consider grounds for appeal

Sir Neil McKay CB, Chair of the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts, said:

Following today’s ruling, we are strongly considering our grounds for appeal. The NHS remains as determined as ever to reconfigure children’s heart services. The NHS will of course study the ruling carefully and its implications. The Judge was very clear that she was not advocating a return to the start of the review process. I am pleased that the Judge has upheld our decisions in relation to the quality standards and the model of care.

We will give due consideration to the judgment and will advise people of the next steps in the process at the beginning of April. We will aim to reach a final decision in June 2013, pending the outcome of the separate IRP process. The expert view remains that the longer vested interests delay this process, the greater the risk of safety concerns manifesting in the units.

I never forget that the purpose of our work is saving lives and improving quality of life for children, and on behalf of the NHS I want to reassure families, patients and clinicians that we remain as determined as ever to reconfigure services for children with congenital heart disease in the interests of better outcomes and a more safe and sustainable service for children and their families. The decision we took in July last year will help save children’s lives, reduce co-morbidities and ensure ongoing care is provided closer to many families’ homes.”

– Sir Neil McKay CB, Chair of the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts,
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Partial victory for heart surgery campaigners

A High Court judge has quashed part of an NHS consultation process to decide the future of children's heart surgery in Leeds. Mrs Justice Nicola Davies acted after recently ruling that the process was legally flawed in relation to the decision to close the unit at Leeds General Infirmary.

The judge said aspects of the Leeds consultations, including a failure to make relevant information available to consultees, was "ill judged". But she stressed she was only quashing "one part" of the JCPCT decision so that there could be "re-consultation and reconsideration" over the Leeds closure.

The judge emphasised that she was not ordering that the whole consultation process had to return to the start. Her decision was a qualified victory for Save Our Surgery (SOS), which represents some 600,000 residents in the Leeds area fighting to keep their unit open.

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