High Court victory for heart unit campaigners

The Lancaster family are campaigning to keep the Leeds Heart Unit open. Toby, 4, was rushed for surgery at the cenre when he suffered heart failiure.'mum Joanne Lancaster with Toby
The Lancaster family are campaigning to keep the Leeds Heart Unit open. Toby, 4, was rushed for surgery at the cenre when he suffered heart failiure.'mum Joanne Lancaster with Toby
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Campaigners have won their High Court challenge over the closure of the children’s heart surgery unit at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI).

Today (Thursday) a judge ruled that the decision process behind closing the vital service was “unlawful” following a judicial review.

The Save Our Surgery (SOS) group launched its challenge to the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trust’s decision to remove children’s heart surgery services from Yorkshire, claiming it would put lives at risk.

The closure would see poorly children from Wakefield having to travel to Liverpool or Newcastle for treatment.

Mrs Justice Nicola Davies said the Safe and Sustainable consultation was “conducted unlawfully”.

She added that the trust refused to provide her with details on how an expert panel came up with their scoring system which earmarked Leeds’ closure.

SOS member Joanne Lancaster, of Stanley, campaigned as her six-year-old son Toby received life saving treatment at the hospital.

She said: “It shows that everything we have been fighting for has paid dividends. There is still a long way to go as we are not sure what the decision means.

“It is definitely a step in the right direction and shows that we were right to question the decision.

“I still can’t believe they want to take away the only heart unit in Yorkshire and the Humber.”

Mrs Lancaster has also given evidence to an independent review panel, which is looking into the decision following a government recommendation. Its decision is due in a few weeks.

And a follow-up hearing will be held at the High Court in three weeks, when it will decide what action to take following Mrs Justice Davies’ announcement.

Families have been backed by Wakefield Council.