Ilkley campaigner for heart unit ‘more confident’

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Olivia Wilkinson with parcelled-up bags of ‘reindeer food’ to sell Olivia Wilkinson with parcelled-up bags of ‘reindeer food’ to sell

A campaigning Ilkley mother says she feels more confident now that two reviews are to be held into the planned closure of a children’s heart unit that saved her four-year-old daughter’s life.

Parents who had been pushing for a judicial review had asked for it to be postponed until an independent Government review was completed.

But a decision by the High Court means there will be no pause in the judicial review, instigated by the Save Our Surgery group and it is expected to go ahead in early February.

Naomi Wilkinson, whose daughter Olivia suffers from a congenital heart defect, said there were questions about the credibility of the original review. And she welcomed the fresh investigations in the form of two new reviews.

“To have the Secretary of State agree there is a case to answer is a massive boost,” she said.

“I feel more confident now than I have ever felt.”

Naomi says her family may be forced to leave Ilkley to move closer to another hospital if the closure of the Leeds General Infirmary’s children’s heart surgery unit goes ahead.

Olivia, who has an incurable heart defect, had her life saved twice by specialists at the unit after undergoing 18 hours of surgery shortly after birth.

She faces an uncertain future as she awaits another major operation and needs ongoing palliative care.

Olivia and her mum have raised hundreds of pounds for the hospital by selling festive bags of “reindeer food” which friends and family have helped them to make.

The decision to go ahead with the judicial review was made in the light of a last-minute Department of Health intervention by letter to the High Court the night before the hearing, asking that the judicial review be completed before the Government review.

The letter said the Secretary of State felt there was “significant overlap” between the Government’s independent review and Save Our Surgery’s case. Sharon Cheng, of Save Our Surgery, said: “Seeking a judicial review has always been our last resort.

“We understand that the Health Secretary agrees there is overlap between our case and his referral to the independent review panel, and the court would therefore like the case to proceed.

“We feel that this is a positive step forward, especially as we now have a timescale for the hearing.”

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