THE DECISION to save children's heart surgery in Southampton has been thrown into chaos once again.

This afternoon a High Court judge has quashed part of the NHS consultation which saved paediatric cardiac surgery at Southampton General Hospital from the axe in July last year.

This comes just weeks after Mrs Justice Nicola Davies ruled that the process was legally flawed in relation to the decision to close the unit at Leeds General Infirmary.

The Department of Health has previously said it was likely to appeal the High Court decision today to ensure the changes to children's cardiac surgery are not delayed.

Sitting at London's High Court, Justice Davies said aspects of the Leeds consultations, including a failure to make relevant information available to consultees, was “ill judged”.

But she stressed today she was only quashing “one part” of the Joint Commission of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) decision so that there could be “re-consultation and reconsideration” over the Leeds closure.

The judge emphasised that she was not ordering that the whole consultation process had to return to the start.

Leeds campaign group Save Our Surgery called for the judicial review after it was not one of the seven centres chosen to become specialist surgical units to boost care.

Southampton's unit was saved after the Daily Echo's Have a Heart campaign collected more than 250,000 signatures in support of the world-renowned unit, which was shown to be the second best in the country.

Previously, the Royal Brompton Hospital, in London, won their judicial review against the consultation process, but the JCPCT won their appeal, saving the process having to be repeated.