Campaigners win High Court fight over children's heart surgery
A HIGH Court challenge against the decision to remove children's heart surgery services from Leeds has been won.
Save Our Surgery (SOS) won its challenge to the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT).
Judge Mrs Justice Nicola Davies said she thought the Safe and Sustainable consultation over the future of paediatric cardiac care in England had been conducted unlawfully.
The children's heart surgery unit at Leeds General Infirmary helps children from across the county, including those battling illnesses in East Yorkshire.
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Sharon Cheng from Save Our Surgery said: "This judgment finally confirms what we have always believed: that the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts' review process and decision to remove children's heart surgery services from Leeds was unlawful.
"Winning this case in the High Court proves once and for all that the supposed consultation was a rubber stamping exercise conducted with an outcome in mind, with clinicians, MPs and patients fooled into feeling they had influence.
"This action was taken by parents and clinicians who simply could not stand by and watch a clear injustice being done. We are extremely pleased and relieved that the High Court has found in our favour.
"This ruling supports our firm belief that patients' needs should be at the forefront in determining where heart surgery services are located. It also supports our assertion that children's heart surgery service provision must reflect today's realities, not those of ten years ago.
"As the culmination of two years' of worry and campaigning, this will be welcomed by millions of members of the public and clinicians who spoke out to challenge the decision and express grave concerns.
"We will now wait to understand the next steps in terms of what this decision means for the overall Safe and Sustainable Review and its implementation, along with the outcome of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel review requested by the Secretary of State for Health, which will be completed at the end of March.
"However, this judgment in itself is a victory for the people who fought to keep children's heart surgery services in Yorkshire, and to challenge what they knew to be a flawed and unjust process."
There will now be a subsequent hearing in three weeks time when the court will decide on the remedy following the decision.