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Archbishop Welcomes Leeds Children’s Heart Surgery Unit High Court Decision

The Archbishop of York meeting patients at the Leeds Children's Heart Surgery Unit.

Thursday 7th March 2013

Campaigners trying to keep child heart surgery in Leeds have today won a legal challenge at the High Court.

The High Court’s decision upheld the challenge by local campaigners that the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts' review process and decision was unfair and legally flawed.


Nearly 600,000 people signed a petition against the decision to end surgery at the unit in Leeds, which treats children from across Yorkshire and the Humber region. If the plan went ahead, children would instead have to travel to Newcastle or Liverpool for operations.

The Archbishop visited the Children’s Heart Surgery Unit at Leeds earlier this year and gave his backing to those battling to keep the Unit open. 

Following the High Court’s decision this morning, the Archbishop said:

“It is great news that the High Court today has upheld the legal challenge brought by local campaigners, asking for all the evidence and facts to be considered before a decision is taken to close paediatric heart surgery at Leeds General Infirmary.

“The Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts' review process and decision to remove children's heart surgery services from Leeds was unjust and flawed. It is utterly unjustified and unethical that the Leeds Unit could be earmarked for closure without the full facts being properly considered.

“Earlier this year, I visited the Leeds Children’s Heart Surgery Unit, to see the life-saving work that they are taking on a daily basis.  These hardworking NHS staff are doing incredible work. 

“The Leeds Unit serves the whole region and has saved the lives of so many across Yorkshire and further afield over the years. This is one of the top performing units in the country and it is the only one with the recognised ‘gold standard’ of having the co-location of all paediatric services that are required.  

“I hope that the Independent Review which has been set up to re-examine the provision of heart surgery across the country is carried out properly and makes its decisions based on hard evidence.  It is vital that the right decisions are made as this will determine how children with congenital heart disease are treated for decades to come – we cannot afford to rush and make a bodge job of this.

“I would like to express my deep thanks to all those people who gave generously to enable the legal challenge to be mounted in the High Court. Thank you for trusting all the clinicians at the Leeds Children’s Heart Surgery Unit.”

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