A DECISION to keep children's heart surgery at a Tyneside hospital is today being challenged in court.
A High Court hearing in London is being asked to consider a claim brought by a campaign group based in Leeds to overturn a decision made by the NHS to reconfigure children’s heart services in England.
Last year it was announced that children’s heart surgery would continue at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital after a ruling was made to keep the life-saving service. The NHS concluded that children living in Yorkshire, the Humber and Lincolnshire would be seen at surgical units that are better able to meet new quality standards in Newcastle, Birmingham and Liverpool.
But the campaign group Save Our Surgery (SOS), which represents a large number of residents in the Leeds area, says an unfair consultation process left consultees "shooting in the dark“ and should be rerun.
A judge is now being asked to rule that the consultation process which led to the changes, including proposals to close the heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary, was "procedurally flawed".
Philip Havers QC, appearing for SOS, today said that nearly 600,000 people had signed a petition against the Leeds closure.
He told Mrs Justice Nicola Davies, sitting at London’s High Court, the consultation process was unfair because the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts, the decision making body, denied consultees the chance to question how the quality of their services had been assessed.
Sir Neil McKay, Chair of the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts said: "We listened carefully to the views of the public and of the experts in the field before making our decision."
The High Court hearing takes place today and tomorrow.