Mixed views over legal action to save Leeds Children's Heart Unit children's heart unit
FAMILIES trying to save a vital heart unit are praying that legal steps currently being taken will not give them false hope.
The Save Our Surgery (SOS) campaign was established to fight against the decision to close Leeds Children's Heart Unit and, as reported, has now submitted an application to the High Court for permission for a judicial review.
The Joint Committee Of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) made the initial decision to close in July, but campaigners are hoping to change their mind with this latest move – one which they see as a last resort.
A High Court judge is now reviewing legal arguments to determine whether there are merits for a legal challenge to take place.
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Parents in North East Lincolnshire whose children rely on the unit in Leeds have mixed views over the action, which will temporarily put a halt to the entire process.
If Leeds closes, the closest treatment centres for patients in this area is either Newcastle or Birmingham.
Marie Dalton, 32, of Grimsby, whose son Riley, 9, had major heart surgery at Leeds, is doubtful that legal action will change anything.
"I am all for legal action to be taken as it means our voices as campaigners are still being heard," she said.
"My main concern is that JCPCT have already made up their mind and they will only fight back to defend their plans.
"Putting a further halt on the decision just leaves my son and other patients in the area in limbo again.
"We have no idea what the future holds which is the scariest thing, especially when it involves our children's lives.
"If the Leeds unit does close, I fear fatalities will be caused. I can only pray it won't be my son."
Danielle Bee's five-year-old daughter, Skyla Paige, will need a heart transplant at some point in her life and continued check-ups.
Danielle, 31, is desperate for the Leeds unit to stay open and believes any steps needed to be taken must be sought.
"It is upsetting to think how time consuming this all is but hopefully it will be worth it," she said.
"We have already done walks, protests and petitions so if legal action is the last resort then so be it.
"Chances have to be taken and this could be the one that gets the results we need."
Officials from SOS remain hopeful that Health Ministers will step in so that they can withdraw their Judicial Review.
However, the chairman of the JCPCT, Sir Neil McKay, has vowed to defend the process and decision to close the unit with confidence if the review went ahead.
Sir Neil said: "The attempt to launch legal action flies in the face of the support that our decision has received from Royal College of Medicine, expert doctors and nurses and national charities across the country.
"I realise that this is a sensitive issue in Yorkshire and the Humber but I sincerely believe that after 12 years of waiting for this difficult decision, we must all now focus our efforts on implementing the decision by working together."
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