A DATE for a legal challenge that threatens to overturn the decision to keep children’s heart surgery in Southampton has been set for next year.

The judicial review launched by campaigners fighting the closure of paediatric cardiac surgery at Leeds General Infirmary will be held on February 11 and 12 at the High Court in London.

If the Save Our Surgery (SOS) team win then the decision made by health bosses in July to save children’s heart surgery at Southampton General Hospital could be under threat.

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.

It followed the Daily Echo’s Have a Heart campaign which saw 250,000 people sign a petition to save Southampton’s worldrenowned unit.

The decision sparked anger among those being treated at the three units facing closure t Leicester’s Glenfield Hospital, London’s Royal Brompton and the unit in Leeds.

The JCPCT has already won one judicial review launched by the Royal Brompton before the decision was taken in July.

Lawyers for SOS had tried to delay the hearing until after a full review of the JCPCT recommendations by the Independent Review Panel, sanctioned by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. But this failed.

Sir Neil McKay, pictured, chairman of the JCPCT, said: “We welcome the court’s decision to grant the judicial review process an urgent hearing.

“We will mount a robust defence of the Safe and Sustainable process and the JCPCT’s decision in the knowledge that medical royal colleges and national charities have welcomed our decision as one that will improve outcomes for children and save more lives in the future.”