Campaigners fighting to save a children’s heart unit are hoping health secretary Jeremy Hunt will reverse the decision today.
Mr Hunt is expected to make a statement to the Commons on the results of a review into the decision to reorganise children’s cardiac services across England into fewer, more specialised units.
This review was ordered by Mr Hunt following a wave of protest in Yorkshire over the plan to shut the centre at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) as well as units at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester and the Royal Brompton in west London.
Campaigners in Leeds fought a successful battle in the High Court and the situation was thrown into sharp focus earlier this year when children’s heart surgery was stopped for almost a fortnight at the LGI after fears were raised about success rates.
This provoked outrage from the Leeds campaigners and local politicians who feared this decision was linked to the bigger issue of which units would stay open nationally.
Mr Hunt asked the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) to look again at the original review.
The IRP’s report is expected to be published later, after Mr Hunt’s announcement.
Jon Arnold, a trustee of the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund at the LGI whose daughter Zoe, six, was treated at the hospital, said: “After a three-year campaign led by parents and patients in our region we’re hopeful that the public’s voice will be listened to.
“More than 600,000 people signed a petition to keep the surgery at the unit in Leeds and a High Court judge ruled the decision to end surgery there was unlawful.”
The original decision to close the three units was part of a general review of services across England based on the premise that there was need to concentrate expertise in more specialist centres.
The plan was to reduce the current 10 units to seven.
The campaign in Leeds focused on how a huge region would be left without local services, leaving families travelling to either Newcastle or Liverpool with extremely sick children.
They took their protest to the High Court and a senior judge quashed the process in March.
Mrs Justice Nicola Davies said aspects of the Leeds consultations were flawed and “ill judged”.
However, a day later surgery was suspended at the LGI unit after serious questions were raised about death rate figures and other alleged problems.
This decision was made just before Easter after an intervention by NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh.
Later, Sir Bruce said death rate figures were among a “constellation of reasons” the decision was made.
But medical bodies, doctors and other experts questioned the accuracy of the data used to support the suspension of surgery.
After more than a week of high-profile controversy, surgery was resumed amid calls from angry MPs and parents for an inquiry into what happened.