Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt puts LGI children’s heart surgery unit decision on hold

THE decision to close the Leeds Children’s Heart Surgery Unit has been halted by health secretary Jeremy Hunt who has ordered a review.

Tuesday, 23rd October 2012, 4:28 pm

An independent panel has been given until next February to look at the decision to close the unit along with others in Leicester and Chelsea as part of an NHS re-organisation.

The announcement was made during a debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday and was welcomed by dozens of MPs who have been calling for a rethink.

Earlier this month the Save Our Surgery campaign group, which is fighting to keep the unit at Leeds general Infirmary open, filed for permission for a judicial review against the decision made by the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) in July.

If their judicial review goes ahead the review announced by Jeremy Hunt will have to be put on hold.

Across the country hundreds of thousands of people have signed petitions, marched and protested against the three proposed closures.

In Leeds alone 600,000 signed the petition and an estimated 3,000 attended a protest in Millennium Square.

The unit at Leeds currently provides specialist surgery and care to children from all over the Yorkshire and Humber but if it closes many children and their families would face long journeys to hospitals in either Newcastle, Liverpool or Birmingham.

Campaigners have argued that the Yorkshire and Humber area with a combined population of 5.5million people needs to have its own children’s heart surgery provision.

The JCPCT however argued that the closures were part of a ‘landmark’ decision that would enable the NHS to improve their care for children with congenital heart disease.

They argued that having fewer but larger centres would mean expertise could be more easily shared.