HEALTH bosses are “strongly considering” an appeal after a High Court judge rejected part of the process that saw children’s heart surgery in Southampton saved.

The ruling has raised uncertainty over Government plans to introduce changes to paediatric cardiac services across the country.

Last July the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) selected seven specialist centres: Southampton General, Great Ormond Street and the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London, Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital, Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Alder Hey in Liverpool and the Royal Children’s Hospital in Bristol.

It meant the closure of units at Leeds General Infirmary, Glenfield Hospital in Leicester and London’s Royal Brompton.

Now Mrs Justice Nicola Davies, sitting at the High Court in London, has quashed part of the consultation that led to that decision.

Just weeks after she ruled that the process was legally flawed in relation to the decision to close the unit at Leeds General Infirmary, she said that aspects of the Leeds consultations, including a failure to make relevant information available to consultees, was “ill judged”.

But she stressed she was only quashing one part of the JCPCT decision, emphasising that she was not ordering that the whole consultation process had to be re-run.

Lawyers involved on either side of the challenge are now considering the full impact of her ruling – and there is disagreement over the extent to which reconsultation and reconsideration must take place.

Last night the JCPCT said it was as determined as ever to finish its job and would make a decision on whether or not to appeal by June.

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 Echo’s Have a Heart campaign collected more than 250,000 signatures in support of the unit, which was shown to be the second best in the country.

Nine-year-old Aaron Prior, of Locks Heath, whose life was saved by heart surgeons in Southampton, was one of those who presented the petition at Downing Street in June 2011.

Sir Neil McKay, chairman of the JCPCT, said: “We are strongly considering our grounds for appeal. The NHS remains as determined as ever to reconfigure children’s heart services.

“The judge was very clear that she was not advocating a return to the start of the review process.”

The Royal Brompton Hospital in London previously won a judicial review against the consultation process, but the JCPCT successfully appealed, saving the process having to be repeated.