MP hails heart unit decision

Jamie Newson-Smith and Hannah Reynard with their daughter Ella in the Leeds children's heart surgery unit at the LGI.
Jamie Newson-Smith and Hannah Reynard with their daughter Ella in the Leeds children's heart surgery unit at the LGI.

Ripon MP Julian Smith has praised the High Court decision to rule recommendations to close Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) heart surgery unit unlawful.

The High Court ruled last week the decision-making process run by the Safe and Sustainable Review – which recommended closing the heart surgery unit – was unlawful.

Mr Smith said: “It has been clear from the start that there were serious flaws in the assessment process used by the Safe and Sustainable Review to make their decisions and this High Court ruling confirms that.

“Many constituents have contacted me and talked about the impact the heart surgery being in Yorkshire has had on their lives and their children’s lives. They will be relieved and delighted at the judge’s ruling.

“The campaign is not over but I hope it now means a secure future for the Leeds unit which provides life-saving care and serves such a populated region of the country.

“There is renewed hope that the children’s heart unit at LGI will be saved after the High Court gave the go-ahead to a legal challenge.”

Boroughbridge MP Andrew Jones has also spoken of his joy that the High Court has backed the legal challenge.

Mr Jones said: “This is a landmark ruling for children’s heart surgery in Leeds. Moves to close the unit which seemed to have all the momentum have been stopped in their tracks.

“The campaigners made a professional case during the judicial review and had the support of local MPs of all political parties including me. I spoke at a special debate in Westminster about this matter. I stressed that I thought greater weight should have been given in the review to the location of Leeds in respect of its suitability for the continuation of children’s heart surgery.

“Leeds has good transport links, not only from north to south, but from east to west, and the key point is that the review proposed that everyone in the Harrogate postcode would travel north to Newcastle. I have spoken to many of my constituents on this matter and they have told me that such an assumption is nonsense.”

But North Yorkshire County Coun Jim Clark, the chairman of North Yorkshire’s health scrutiny committee, said it was important not to lose sight of the fact that the legal ruling concerned the process, and not the proposal itself.

“I welcome the judgement but it is still vital that we continue to lobby to keep both Newcastle and Leeds,” he said.

A decision by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel is expected at the end of March.