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Delight as High Court challenge to Leeds heart unit closure is a success
10:04am Thursday 14th March 2013 in Local news
There was elation last week when campaigners won a High Court challenge over proposed changes to children's heart surgery services in England.
Save Our Surgery (SOS), which is trying to stop the closure of the heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary, argued the consultation process leading up to the changes was “unfair and procedurally flawed”.
Mrs Justice Nicola Davies, sitting at London's High Court, ruled that the challenge must succeed – but what the victory means for the future will be decided at a later date.
SOS spokeswoman Sharon Cheng said the ruling did not necessarily mean the Leeds heart unit was saved, and much would depend on what orders the judge decided to make when the matter returns to court on March 27. One possibility is that the judge will order fresh consultations.
Ms Cheng said: “We have won this case on every point. It doesn't necessarily mean the heart surgery is saved, but fresh reconsideration will have to be given as to what is to happen next and the fight will go on.
“We knew it was time to fight because of the strength of feeling of families.”
Naomi Wilkinson, of Ilkley, and her four-year-old daughter Olivia who suffers from a congenital heart defect, are one such family fighting to save the Leeds unit.
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 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.
Speaking after the ruling Naomi said: “It is amazing news – we are absolutely elated. It is definitely a day for celebration but we have to get to the end of the month to see what she (Mrs Justice Davies) says then. We are pushing for a whole new review.”
Naomi said she was shocked by the ruling handed down by the judge which found the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trust (JCPCT)’s process and decision were unlawful.
She said: “I didn’t think it would go our way but it is the right decision. This has been the people’s campaign – right across the county everyone has got involved and there are not many campaigns that can say that.”