Legal bid criticised over decision to stop heart surgery

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HEALTH bosses have criticised the launch of legal action against a decision to stop children’s heart surgery in Yorkshire.

National charity the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund has instructed lawyers to launch a judicial review to attempt to prevent services at Leeds General Infirmary from stopping. It comes following the NHS’s Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts announcement in July it had been earmarked for the axe.

Campaigners from across South Yorkshire have been part of the fight to keep the unit open, as children requiring surgery in the area would be forced to travel to Newcastle or Liverpool under the new plans.

The Leeds branch of the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund is now calling on a judge to consider the lawfulness of the decision.

Sir Neil McKay, chairman of the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts, said: “It’s hugely disappointing.

“The campaign group’s claim appears to hinge on a narrow technical aspect relating to the availability of about 150 detailed sub-scores that the decision makers did not have.

“Considering the scale of this review, the campaign group’s litigation focuses on a very limited element of the overall process.”

Sir Neil added: “Children and their families have waited far too long for these vital services to be changed.

“We believe our decision - backed by professional associations and national charities - was the right one to ensure high quality sustainable services for the future.

“By pooling surgical expertise and expanding care closer to home, we will improve outcomes and clinicians will save more children’s lives.”