Parents’ fresh hope in heart unit battle

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PARENTS in South Yorkshire today welcomed a judge’s ruling which has given a possible lifeline to vital heart unit.

Thousands of South Yorkshire families have joined the growing campaign to stop the closure of Leeds heart unit.

If it is shut children with serious heart problems would have to travel to Newcastle – 140 miles from Sheffield.

But the families were given good news when a High Court judge ordered the consultation looking at closing centres across the country be ‘quashed’ after London’s Royal Brompton Hospital claimed it was ‘shot through with legal error’.

Mr Justice Owen said the London unit had been unfairly rated – and ruled the consultation exercise was ‘unlawful’.

NHS bosses have said they will appeal, but if that is not successful the entire consultation will have to be repeated.

The ruling means a final decision over the Leeds service – due on December 14 – will be delayed until the spring.

Mum Amy Brocklebank, 24, of Stannington, Sheffield, has been a regular visitor to Leeds since her little boy Louis, now aged seven months, was diagnosed with two holes in his heart.

She said: “This decision is really promising. It is definitely a move in the right direction. Louis had open heart surgery at the hospital when he was 14 weeks old and he will have to have more operations when he is older.

“If Leeds is closed we will have to go all the way to Newcastle, and with a three-year-old little girl at home as well, it makes it so difficult.”

Cassie Symms, 29, from Dinnington, is also a regular visitor to Leeds, with one-year-old Zander.

She said: “This is great news. It means a judge has agreed with what we are saying – that this isn’t fair.”

Sharon Cheng, director of the Leeds Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, said: “This decision only hardens our resolve to safeguard the service.”