AFTER just four days the Daily Echo campaign to save the future of children’s cardiac surgery in Southampton is to go straight to the heart of Government.

The man in charge of the country’s health will receive a personal plea from a Hampshire MP to save the threatened centre.

Eastleigh MP and Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Huhne has vowed to take the issue to fellow Cabinet member, Health Minister Andrew Lansley.

Mr Huhne believes Southampton is the best place for the specialised unit and is backing the Daily Echo’s Have a Heart Campaign.

The MP joins health experts, politicians, families who have used the centre and hundreds of Echo readers who have already thrown their weight behind our campaign.

Despite being ranked the second best in the country, the unit at Southampton General Hospital is under threat as health chiefs look to cut the UK’s 11 centres down to six or seven.

Southampton was featured in just one of four options which will be put out for a four month public consultation starting on February 28, before the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts makes their final decision by the end of the year.

If Southampton closed, it would mean families would be forced to get life-saving treatment in London or Bristol, at units which experts say fell below the “exemplary” standards that the city boasts.

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Speaking to the Daily Echo, Mr Huhne admitted he was surprised to hear Southampton was not in more than one of the options and gave his full backing to our campaign.

He said: “I would love it for the unit to remain in Southampton and am backing the Daily Echo’s campaign.

“Obviously Southampton is the most appropriate place to centralise children’s cardiac services because of the advantages of being able to get easy access from all around the region.

“The centre had a great reputation and it would be terrible if it was not to be supported.

“The decision is for the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts but I very much keep in touch with Andrew Lansley about health matters and I will be pursuing the case.”

We want readers, politicians and health workers to join forces with families who have used the unit to back our campaign to show how valued and vital the life-saving work done by the city’s top performing heart surgeons is to the region.