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New review could affect specialist heart unit that treats Cumbrian children

An independent review is underway into plans that could affect the future of a specialist heart unit which treats Cumbrian children.

Freeman Hospital photo
Freeman Hospital, Newcastle

The centre, at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital, was under threat as part of proposals to reduce the number of hospitals nationally carrying out children’s heart surgery.

But following a consultation, it was announced in July that the north east unit would continue to operate. However, one in Leeds would not.

Now, following a campaign from those set to close – including the launch of legal proceedings – a full review is underway. The result could again affect the future of the Newcastle unit.

The Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) will consider whether the national proposals will enable the provision of safe, sustainable and accessible services.

Lord Ribeiro, chairman of the IRP, said: “The panel’s key focus throughout the review will be children with congenital heart disease and the quality of care they need.

“During the course of the review we will gather evidence from a range of people and listen to all interested parties to ensure that the recommendations we make are in the best interests of the children – and their families – across England that need to access these services.”

But Sir Neil McKay, chairman of the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts, which made the original decision, has defended it.

He said: “In making our decision we considered a vast amount of evidence and data, all of which is in the public domain. It is regrettable that a campaign group in Leeds has begun proceedings for a judicial review. We will mount a robust defence of our landmark decision. We will also work closely with the IRP over the coming months to assist the panel’s review.”

As part of the review process, the IRP will visit the hospitals currently providing specialist children’s heart surgery to see the facilities and meet patients and staff.

Health and Overview Scrutiny Committees and MPs will also be invited to share their views, as can members of the public. To get involved email or leave a messsage at 0207 389 8046.

The IRP will make its recommendations to the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, who will make the final decision, by February 28.

Have your say

If the goverment traced all the taxdogers and companys that avoid paying tax, that surely would be sufficient to keep both open,so next time you see MP's saying how much the care try putting that question to them.

Posted by james O on 20 November 2012 at 12:06

Surely this needs a BIG campaign by Cumberland Newspapers to SUPPORT Newcastle....?

It is no good just reporting and NOT doing anything about it..

Come on Editors - get stirred up for a change!

Posted by Cumbrian resident on 15 November 2012 at 12:12

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