Judgement in legal challenge to decision to save children's heart surgery at Southampton General Hospital

Toby Nash and Nancy Laverty, patients at Southampton hospital’s children’s cardiac E1 unit, with the 225,000 signature strong petition in the Daily Echo's Have a Heart Campaign.

Toby Nash and Nancy Laverty, patients at Southampton hospital’s children’s cardiac E1 unit, with the 225,000 signature strong petition in the Daily Echo's Have a Heart Campaign.

First published in Health

A JUDGE has today ordered an urgent hearing of a new legal challenge that could overturn the decision to keep children’s heart surgery in Southampton.

At present, it is proposed to close operations at three English hospitals including Leeds General Infirmary, but keep them in Southampton.

The decision was made after a huge Daily Echo campaign which attracted more than a quarter of a million signatures from people desperate to ensure Ocean Ward at Southampton General – which has the second-best record in the country – remained open.

But now, campaign group Save Our Surgery (SOS) is seeking a judicial review to keep paediatric cardiac surgery at Leeds and argues the consultation process was unfair.

Children in the area will instead have to travel to Newcastle or Liverpool for surgery.

If SOS wins its action, the proposed changes countrywide will be affected, including Southampton.

The two other units currently facing closure are at Leicester's Glenfield Hospital and London's Royal Brompton, which lost its own application for judicial review earlier this year.

The Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) decided care should be concentrated at fewer, larger sites to improve standards and chose units at Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Southampton and two London centres.

Today, SOS lawyers asked Judge Mackie QC, a deputy judge at London's High Court, to delay their court application against the JCPCT proposals in the light of Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt's decision last month to order a full review of the JCPCT recommendations by the Independent Review Panel (IRP).

The panel reports at the end of next February.

Philip Havers QC, for SOS, argued Mr Hunt could make a decision based on IRP recommendations which would make the Leeds legal challenge unnecessary, and thus save a lot of expense.

Dinah Rose QC, representing the JCPCT, argued the case should come on for hearing as quickly as possible to avoid further delay, which was already damaging children's heart care services.

She argued the secretary of state had indicated that he wanted the opinion of the High Court on the Leeds case to assist the IRP deliberations.

Judge Mackie dismissed the SOS application for a stay and instead said its challenge should be brought forward and heard over two days before February 15, weeks before the IRP reports to Mr Hunt.

Later, Sir Neil McKay, JCPCT chair, said the decision is “a victory for families, parents and patients across the country”, including Southampton.

He said: ''Save our Surgery Ltd brought a strange request to the court - to delay its own judicial review.

''This would have significantly delayed long overdue improvements to children's heart services for months.

''The delaying tactics have failed.

''If the judicial review needs to be heard, we have always maintained that it should be heard as soon as possible.

''Medical royal colleges and national charities have warned that further delay to reform will put children's lives at additional risk, highlighting the urgency of concluding the legal challenge quickly to avoid further delay in improving services for children with heart disease.''

Comments (5)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

7:23pm Wed 21 Nov 12

chunky_lover says...

wtf is going on? This must stay open.
wtf is going on? This must stay open. chunky_lover
  • Score: 0

7:35pm Wed 21 Nov 12

Tye-Dye pt2 says...

The decision has been made, the specialist hospitals chosen, now our children can have an even better chance of life in the future........errr not with our antiquated legal system! I truly hope not a single child is affected by Leeds PCT appeal, the legal systems an ****!
The decision has been made, the specialist hospitals chosen, now our children can have an even better chance of life in the future........errr not with our antiquated legal system! I truly hope not a single child is affected by Leeds PCT appeal, the legal systems an ****! Tye-Dye pt2
  • Score: 0

7:58pm Wed 21 Nov 12

chunky_lover says...

It's the judges, those people are bad people.
It's the judges, those people are bad people. chunky_lover
  • Score: 0

8:12pm Wed 21 Nov 12

Lone Ranger. says...

chunky_lover wrote:
It's the judges, those people are bad people.
No its not .... Its the legal system that allows "challenges" like this
[quote][p][bold]chunky_lover[/bold] wrote: It's the judges, those people are bad people.[/p][/quote]No its not .... Its the legal system that allows "challenges" like this Lone Ranger.
  • Score: 0

8:26pm Wed 21 Nov 12

Joanne D says...

The article is misleading. SOS had already been given leave to challenge the process but had applied to stay these proceedings which could have meant even longer delay until people know what is happening. The judge has rejected the application and listed the hearing for February. There is currently a review of the Safe and Sustainable heart surgery process being carried by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel ordered by the Health Secretary which is due to be completed by February. If this application had been accepted by the Judge this could have gone on even longer.
The article is misleading. SOS had already been given leave to challenge the process but had applied to stay these proceedings which could have meant even longer delay until people know what is happening. The judge has rejected the application and listed the hearing for February. There is currently a review of the Safe and Sustainable heart surgery process being carried by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel ordered by the Health Secretary which is due to be completed by February. If this application had been accepted by the Judge this could have gone on even longer. Joanne D
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree