1. ITV Report

Call for children's heart unit deadline to be extended

Leeds children's heart surgery unit Photo: ITV Yorkshire

The chair of the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee for Yorkshire and Humber has written to the Secretary of State for Health asking him to extend the deadline for the Independent Reconfiguration Panel’s report on the proposals to reconfigure children’s congenital cardiac services in England.The High Court judgment was not previously available until 24 April, four weeks later than expected, and NHS England has not yet set out how it intends to move forward – making it impracticable for the JHOSC to provide any further comments to the IRP before the current 30 April deadline. Given the current uncertainty about NHS England’s appeal, there are also concerns that the IRP may not be sufficiently clear about NHS England’s intentions for it to complete its report. It would therefore be inappropriate to conclude its review by 30 April as planned. The temporary suspension, and subsequent recommencement of children’s cardiac surgery and interventional cardiology at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, has also significantly increased the complexity of the review, and there is a strong belief this in itself warrants an extension to the IRP’s reporting deadline.

I have written to the Secretary of State for Health today to ask him to give urgent consideration to extending the IRP’s deadline until such a time that a number of outstanding matters are resolved.

“The formal High Court Judgment was only made available to our members yesterday (24 April), a delay of four weeks since the judge’s decision, which makes it impossible for us to provide a considered response to the IRP before 30 April.“NHS England has made it clear that they intend to seek permission to appeal against the High Court judgment, but until their next steps are known it is highly unlikely that the IRP will be able to produce a complete and comprehensive report with meaningful recommendations.“With events surrounding the temporary suspension and subsequent reinstatement of children’s heart surgery at LGI significantly increasing the complexity associated with the review, we strongly urge Jeremy Hunt to consider our request so that this convoluted process is not thrown into further disarray.”

– Councillor John Illingworth, chair of the JHOSC