Children’s heart unit campaign puts legal challenge on hold

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campaigners fighting for the survival of Leeds’s children’s heart surgery unit have decided to postpone a planned legal challenge pending the results of an independent review ordered by the Government.

The Save Our Surgery campaign has confirmed it is asking for a stay of proceedings in its judicial review case against the Joint
Committee of Primary Care Trusts.

Lawyers for the group will request that the action be put on hold until after the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP)’s review is complete at the end of February.

A statement on the group’s official Facebook page said: “Save our Surgery is asking the court to wait until the Health Secretary’s decision has been made as it is hoped the IRP will deal with the points raised by the judicial review challenge.

“This is the appropriate and right action to take in light of these circumstances, and the fact that the Health Secretary has decided that the children’s heart surgery provision review process needs to be re-examined.

“We have always made it clear that seeking a judicial review was our last resort option and we would rather avoid court action and the costs associated with it if we can.

“At the time that we initiated legal proceedings the IRP 
referral had not taken place – now that it has, we need to see what 
the panel decides before proceeding.”

Yesterday, a scrutiny panel of Yorkshire councillors said the controversial decision to close the Leeds children’s heart surgery unit could have “fatal consequences”.

Their views will now form part of the independent review.

Chair of the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee for Yorkshire and the Humber, councillor John Illingworth, said: “The service in Yorkshire is being sacrificed.

“The key consideration must be that the same or a better service will be offered as a result of any change and that is simply not the case here, with potentially fatal consequences.

“There has been a serious lack of openness and many questions remain outstanding.”

Sir Neil McKay, who led the
original inquiry into children’s heart surgery, said: “It was 
Save our Surgery that requested
the judicial review of our 
decision.

“If there is to be a judicial review, it should be heard as a matter of urgency.”

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