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Ilkley mother's hopes over Leeds children's heart unit review
1:34pm Friday 8th February 2013 in News
A campaigning Ilkley mother says she is “hoping and praying” a legal challenge to prevent the closure of a children’s heart surgery unit proves successful.
The judicial review case challenging the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trust’s (JCPCT) decision to close the Leeds Children’s Heart Surgery Unit is due to be heard in the High Court on Monday and Tuesday.
The case, being brought by Save Our Surgery (SOS), disputes the legality of the trust’s decision to remove paediatric cardiac services from Leeds and claims that it will leave Yorkshire, Humber side and the north Midlands with a poorer children’s heart surgery service.
The legal case follows an outcry by clinicians, MPs and the public, who believe that the decision to close the Leeds unit has not been made with patients’ interests at heart.
Naomi Wilkinson, of Ilkley, whose four-year-old daughter Olivia suffers from a congenital heart defect, is one of the parents who has been pushing for the judicial review.
Olivia had her life saved twice by specialists at the unit, after undergoing 18 hours of surgery shortly after birth. She faces a third operation in the future and Naomi says her family may be forced to leave Ilkley to move closer to another hospital if the closure of the Leeds unit goes ahead.
She said: “We are anxiously waiting but hoping that common sense will prevail. It is crazy to close the Leeds unit because the evidence to support it staying open is overwhelming.”
Sharon Cheng, of Save Our Surgery, said: “Taking legal action has always been our last resort, pursued only after all other appeals were rejected by the JCPCT. But having been forced to take this route, we believe that our arguments will clearly show that the review process was flawed and that they are not acting in the best interests of children.
“We understand and agree with the need to consolidate children’s heart surgery services into fewer centres of excellence. But closing Leeds and forcing families to travel for hours makes no sense. Leeds has routinely been rated as excellent and has all the facilities needed by critically ill children and their families on one site.
“At the end of the day, this is about protecting the lives of children and this is why we believe that the challenge should be heard.”
The decision is also currently under review by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel requested by the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, with a report expected at the end of March.