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Bradford families delighted at Leeds heart unit verdict
A wave of delight spread across the district after the High Court ruling on children’s heart services in Yorkshire.
Campaigning group Save Our Surgery (SOS), which is trying to stop the closure of the heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary, won its case after arguing the consultation process leading up to the changes was “unfair and procedurally flawed”.
Mrs Justice Nicola Davies, at London’s High Court, ruled that the challenge must succeed - but what the victory means for the future will be decided at a later date.
Emma Atkinson, of Bank View, Birkenshaw, mother to Edward, almost two, said she was ecstatic at the news.
Her child needed 13 hours of open heart surgery at eight days old.
The family found out at Mrs Atkinson’s 20-week scan that Edward had a hole in his heart, and when he was born they found out he also had a narrowing of the aorta.
Mrs Atkinson said: “It is brilliant news, when I found out initially it was just such a relief. I was happier than I ever imagined I would be.
“It won’t affect me directly as Edward had his main surgery just after he was born but the condition may reoccur and knowing the services are just in Leeds it is reassuring to know. I have three children aged under four and travelling to Newcastle would just be unthinkable.”
The legal challenge stems from a decision last July by the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) that paediatric cardiac surgery should be concentrated at fewer, larger sites to improve standards across the country.
Jan Dunne, of Low Moor, Bradford, was delighted. Mrs Dunne, mother of ten-year-old Harrison, who had successful heart surgery in 2011.
Harrison was born with a rare heart condition called supraventricular tachy-cardia. Mrs Dunne said: “It is such a relief and I am so pleased that they have realised it would have been the wrong decision to close it.”
Bradford Council’s portfolio holder for children Councillor Ralph Berry (Labour) said: “I am overjoyed with the result. It has been a terrible time for families thinking about making a journey with their children to Newcastle.”
MPs across the district shared in the joy of the result. Conservative MP for Keighley Kris Hopkins said: “I am absolutely delighted that the huge amount of work undertaken by the Save Our Surgery (SOS) campaign has paid off.”
Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland, Bradford West MP George Galloway and Bradford Council Leader, David Green sent their congratulations to campaigners.
SOS spokesman Sharon Cheng said the ruling did not necessarily mean the Leeds heart unit was saved.
Sir Neil McKay, chairman of the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts said: “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 heart disease.
There will be a hearing in about three week’s time when the court will decide the next steps.