Scunthorpe MP Nic Dakin welcomes legal victory for Leeds children's heart unit campaigners
Scunthorpe MP Nic Dakin has welcomed today's legal decision that found consultation in to the future of the paediatric cardiac care had been conducted unlawfully.
If closed, the heart surgery unit in Leeds - used by patients in North Lincolnshire - would see patients having to travel as far as Newcastle.
Mr Dakin said: "Along with MPs across the region I have always argued that the Safe and Sustainable Review of Children's Heart Surgery was not carried out properly and that the quality scores should have been made available to ensure the highest transparency in decision making.
"I am pleased that the courts have now agreed with this.
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"Many local families have benefited hugely from the Leeds Children's Heart Unit.
"I have seen for myself the excellent work being done by the unit.
"I do hope that the review that the Independent Reconfiguration Panel is now carrying out will end up with services remaining at Leeds."
Mrs Justice Nicola Davies has decided today that the Safe and Sustainable consultation into the future of paediatric cardiac care in England has been conducted unlawfully.
She was asked to review the decision of the NHS on July 4 2012 to choose seven specialist centres for the future performance of paediatric cardiac surgery.
The centre in Leeds was not chosen and the campaign group, "Save Our Surgery", conducted the legal challenge against the NHS.
The judgment explains the factual background, legal framework and legal arguments made by both the NHS and Save Our Surgery.
The judge acknowledged that the Safe and Sustainable consultation was comprehensive but focused on the role of an expert panel which scored each specialist centre against quality standards.
The specialist centres were given the overall total scores on quality as was the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts ("JCPCT"), the committee which made the final decision on behalf of the NHS.
During the consultation period, Safe and Sustainable were asked to provide further information about how the centres were given the quality scores, including the sub scores which made up the total quality score. It refused. The judge decided this was a fatal mistake.
She said: "The assessment of quality undertaken by the expert panel was so significant to the final decision making, fairness did require disclosure of the expert panel's sub scores to enable those participating in the consultation process, including the specialist centres themselves, to provide a meaningful response.
"The refusal to provide the sub scores to those who asked for them was "ill judged"
"The JCPCT failed in its duty to properly scrutinise and assess all relevant evidence before making its decision, given that it also failed to consider the sub scores themsleves.
"It was not enough to rely upon the expert panel without question, particularly since questions had been raised about the assessment.
"If consultation respondents had information about the sub scores, it may have impacted on the final decision to close the Leeds paediatric cardiac surgical unit.
"Consequently, failure to provide the sub scores was unlawful."
There will be a subsequent hearing in 3 weeks time when the Court will decide on the remedy following this decision.