Save Our Surgery (SOS) welcomes the decision by Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, to halt the planned closure of children’s heart surgery units, including the Leeds unit, pending review by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP). However, SOS is also calling for the Health Secretary to ensure that the independent review looks into the original process and scoring system used with sufficient scrutiny rather than simply repeating the original assessment process, which raised significant concerns.
The IRP review, announced by the Health Secretary in Parliament yesterday, has been sparked by outcry around the decision from MPs, local government and members of the public across the country, and comes following formal complaints from local authorities in Leicester and Lincolnshire.
Sharon Cheng from Save Our Surgery, says:
While we are delighted that the Government has finally listened to the concerns of patients, MPs and local councillors and stepped in to halt the planned closures, our fear is that the IRP will simply repeat the same flawed process as originally used.
Instead, we would sincerely ask that the Panel take a thorough and deep look at the decision-making approach and scoring behind it, as well as asking questions about why more data has not been provided by the JCPCT to allow other concerned scrutiny teams to lodge their own appeals.
We are confident that if the IRP thoroughly investigates the way the original review was approached, how hospitals were scored, and how that scoring was used, it will understand why this process has sparked such widespread concern.
SOS was established in September of this year to challenge the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trust’s (JCPCT) decision to close Leeds children’s heart surgery unit. Earlier this month, SOS announced that it had commenced legal proceedings against the JCPCT, applying to the High Court for permission for Judicial Review.
SOS is disputing the legality of the JCPCT decision to close the paediatric cardiac surgical unit in Leeds, which it believes will leave Yorkshire, Humber and the North Midlands with a poorer children’s heart surgery service. The decision also means patients across Yorkshire and The Humber will have to travel up to 150 miles to Newcastle, Birmingham or Liverpool for treatment.