Judicial review which challenges decision to close Leeds surgery is set for next week

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Sharon Cheng and Amy Newall collect signatures for the Save Our Surgery petition at Valley Parade in 2011 Sharon Cheng and Amy Newall collect signatures for the Save Our Surgery petition at Valley Parade in 2011

The date has been set for a court hearing to decide the future of the children’s heart surgery unit in Yorkshire.

The judicial review is challenging the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trust’s (JCPCT) decision to close the Leeds Children’s Heart Surgery Unit, which provides services to young people in Bradford.

The case is due to be heard in the High Court on Monday, February 11, and Tuesday, February 12.

Save Our Surgery (SOS) brought forward the challenge because it disputes the legality of the JCPCT decision to remove paediatric cardiac services from Leeds, claiming it will leave Yorkshire with a poorer children’s heart surgery service.

The legal case follows widespread outcry from clinicians, MPs and the public, who believe that the decision to close the Leeds unit has not been made with patients’ interests in mind.

Bradford South Labour MP Gerry Sutcliffe, said: “All of West Yorkshire’s MPs support the hospital. This will be a big decision and I hope the review will take into account everything we’ve been saying about why it is so important.”

Conservative MP for Keighley, Kris Hopkins said: “The specialist services currently available at Leeds General Infirmary are second to none, as is the dedicated professionalism of the doctors and nurses who provide them. We must continue to do all we can to maintain the unit.”

The JCPCT claim the move is in a bid to improve services and the decision to reconfigure children’s heart services was made as an outcome of the Safe and Sustainable review.

Sir Neil McKay, chair of the JCPCT said: “We listened carefully to the views of the public and of the experts in the field before making our decision, and we concluded that the strongest option for the future configuration of children’s heart surgical services did not include Leeds General Infirmary.

“Royal colleges of medicine have welcomed our decision as one that will save more children’s lives in the future, and we stand ready to defend our process with confidence.”

Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland and Bradford West MP George Galloway echoed some of the points of fellow MPs and support the campaigners.

Sharon Cheng of Save Our Surgery says: “Taking legal action has always been our last resort option, pursued only after all other appeals to review the decision were rejected by the JCPCT.

“However, having been forced to take this route, we believe that our arguments will clearly show that the JCPCT’s review process was flawed and that they are not acting in the best interests of children.”

The JCPCT decision is also currently the subject of a review by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel requested by the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, with a report expected at the end of March.

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