Children’s heart hospital closure decision delayed

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FAMILIES in South Yorkshire will have to endure another delay to find out whether the region’s only specialist heart unit will be closed.

Thousands of parents in and around Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster have joined the growing campaign to stop the closure of The Children’s Heart Unit in Leeds as part of a consolidation of surgical centres.

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

Now they will have to wait even longer for a decision on the closure, after the Joint Chairs of Primary Care Trusts were given additional time to prepare for a court battle on the matter. The body, which is working on the closure, is appealing a High Court decision that ruled a consultation carried out last year was flawed.

The Court of Appeal has now ordered the hearing should take place in late March - and a decision on the closure cannot take place until the appeal is completed.

The decision was initially expected in November 2011.

Children’s Heart Surgery Fund director Sharon Cheng, who opposes the closure, said: “This delay is another setback to families desperate to find out whether they will be forced to travel hundreds of miles for treatment. There is everything still to fight for.”