An independent panel is set to review the planned closure of a children’s heart unit amid widespread anger among MPs at a shake-up of the services across England.
A formal representation has been made to health secretary Andrew Lansley by local authorities concerned at the proposal to end paediatric heart services at Leeds General Infirmary.
Health minister Simon Burns said Mr Lansley would “almost certainly” refer the concerns to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP).
The facility at Leeds was one of three specialist units earmarked for closure following a review of children’s heart services.
The changes also include the end of the treatments at the Royal Brompton, London, and Glenfield Hospital, Leicester, after an NHS review decided having 10 units carrying out children’s heart surgery spread expertise too thin.
But in the Commons MPs condemned the review and urged ministers to step in with a rethink.
Liberal Democrat Greg Mulholland (Leeds North West) said there were “serious questions” about the way the decision was made.
Conservative MP Jason McCartney (Colne Valley) said: “Now the decision has been referred to the health secretary I hope he will revisit the decision based on the four tests stipulated for redesigning services.
“Many constituents with recent experience of the Leeds unit have been in touch since this announcement.
“There is this assumption all the patients at the Leeds unit will automatically migrate to Newcastle and I think that’s a big flaw in the assessment made here.”
Labour MP Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith) said his west London constituents would also lose out with the removal of the service from the Royal Brompton.
He said: “The impact of taking children’s surgery and intensive care from Royal Brompton will have devastating consequences and not just for those young patients who value the hospital’s cardiac care so highly.”
Mr Burns said: “It will then be up to that independent organisation to look at the recommendation, to look at the criticisms of that recommendation by the [local council’s overview and scrutiny committee] and to reach a conclusion, an independent conclusion, as to whether they agree with the recommendation or they agree with the criticisms of the recommendation and maybe the procedures that have got it to that position, and they will then make (Mr Lansley) aware of their independent view of the complaint by the OSC.”
He added that as a result of the review of children’s heart services “there could be a number of referrals by different OSCs with regard to the recommendations that have been made”.