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Heart Unit: JCPT 'disappointed' over court's decision

Following a Judicial Review that found the consultation process leading to the proposed closure of the Children's Heart Unit in Leeds was flawed, the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts has released the following statement.

“I am very disappointed with the Court’s decision. The pressing need to reform children’s heart services is long overdue and experts have cautioned that further delay in achieving the necessary change would be a major setback in improving outcomes for children with heartdisease.

We do not yet know what the Court will decide in terms of next steps. We are making representations to the Court that it should not quash the decision in its entirety as the Claimant seeks. Once we have the Court’s judgment on this point we will strongly consider the possibility of appeal.

The Claimant wishes for the NHS to abandon its plans for there configuration of children’s heart services against the express wishes of the vast majority of respondents to consultation. 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”.

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

Archbishop welcomes Leeds Children's Heart Surgery Unit High Court Decision

It is great news that the High Court today has upheld the legal challenge brought by local campaigners, asking for all the evidence and facts to be considered before a decision is taken to close paediatric heart surgery at Leeds General Infirmary.

The Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts' review process and decision to remove children's heart surgery services from Leeds was unjust and flawed. It is utterly unjustified and unethical that the Leeds Unit could be earmarked for closure without the full facts being properly considered.

Earlier this year, I visited the Leeds Children’s Heart Surgery Unit, to see the life-saving work that they are taking on a daily basis. These hardworking NHS staff are doing incredible work.

The Leeds Unit serves the whole region and has saved the lives of so many across Yorkshire and further afield over the years. This is one of the top performing units in the country and it is the only one with the recognised ‘gold standard’ of having the co-location of all paediatric services that are required.

I hope that the Independent Review which has been set up to re-examine the provision of heart surgery across the country is carried out properly and makes its decisions based on hard evidence. It is vital that the right decisions are made as this will determine how children with congenital heart disease are treated for decades to come – we cannot afford to rush and make a bodge job of this."

– Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York


Health minister: Heart surgery review "independent of Government"

This is an extremely emotive and complex area and a matter of real concern to the patients and families and those who work in this area.

Ensuring paediatric heart surgery services across the country are safe and deliver the very best outcomes for children in the future is what we all want.The Safe and Sustainable review of children’s congenital heart services was a NHS review independent of Government. It is now for the JCPCT and from 1 April the NHSCB to consider the court’s ruling.

– Health Minister Anna Soubry
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