Reams of documents about children’s heart surgery decision are disclosed

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REAMS of documents about the controversial decision to close Leeds children’s heart surgery unit have been disclosed.

Leeds councillor John Illingworth had been demanding the paperwork from an NHS body behind the move.

After threatening to complain to the Government information watchdog, he has now been sent 18kg (39lb) of documents relating to the decision – however he is still seeking more information which has been deemed confidential.

And he is asking for some further detail to be released as soon as possible, as he says it is crucial for a legal challenge to the decision due to be heard next month.

Health bosses decided in July to close the Leeds General Infirmary service as part of a national shake-up.

Since then, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced the closures will be independently reviewed following calls from local council committees, including from the Yorkshire and the Humber Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee. The committee has also been asking for more information about the Safe and Sustainable review, which drew up plans for the shake-up, and the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts, which made the final decision.

Last year the Yorkshire Post reported that the committee chairman Coun Illingworth had asked the Information Commissioner 
to force the handover of paperwork.

They advised that he should go through an internal complaints procedure and now a bundle of 3,400 pages of documents has been provided.

However some information is missing as it is said to be confidential by NHS Specialised Services, the body overseeing the children’s heart surgery review.

Coun Illingworth said there was a strong public interest case for disclosing the additional documents.

He is also asking for the immediate disclosure of more details of an assessment of care at the unit, which he says is crucial for an upcoming judicial review against the decision being brought by Leeds campaign group Save Our Surgery.

He said: “I am concerned about the fact that we have got a court case going on which has been brought forward by the National Specialised Commissioning Team, but they are denying the court the opportunity to make a fully informed decision.”