Judge Orders Fresh Consultation On Children’s Heart Surgery Provision In Leeds

Lawyers Support Campaigners In Their Battle To Prevent Closure Of Vital Service


Medical law experts have welcomed a ruling which said the consultation process leading up to proposed  changes to children’s heart surgery services at Leeds General Infirmary was ‘unfair and procedurally flawed.’

In July, health officials acting for primary care trusts across England and Wales decided Leeds should stop surgery so care could be concentrated on fewer sites to improve standards across the country.

Patients, charities, MPs and a group called Save our Surgery (SOS) have campaigned rigorously against the proposals which would mean heart patients currently using the West Yorkshire site would have to travel as far as Newcastle or Liverpool to be treated.

Mrs Justice Nicola Davies, sitting at London’s High Court, said the consultation process was flawed but her ruling didn’t necessarily mean the Leeds centre had been saved from the axe. A further hearing will be held on March 27 to decide what the next stage of the consultation process will be.

Sarah Coles, a specialist in the medical law and patients’ right team at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office, said: “We welcome all efforts to improve access to the best care possible but there were many aspects of the original decision to close the children’s heart unit in Leeds which we believe would cause major disruption for families.

“In our experience many people often need to go through long stays in hospital when their children are being treated. If the unit is closed it may cause unnecessary strain on families as parents are forced to stay in units a long way from home without the vital support of having their friends and loved ones around them.

“We welcome any further consultation about this matter and are pleased campaigners now have a fair opportunity to have their concerns about a service they really believe in heard.”

The specialist unit at Leeds General Infirmary was set to be closed along with similar centres at the Royal Brompton Hospital in west London and the Glenfield Hospital in Leicester. This was following an NHS review which said the quality of these services would be improved if expertise was concentrated at fewer sites across the UK.

SOS spokeswoman Sharon Cheng said outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London said the ruling didn’t necessarily mean the heart surgery services in Leeds had been saved but ‘the fight will go on.’