Fight to save get unit gets fresh hope

Two-year-old Kian Hawkins with his mum Sharron, Streethouse
Two-year-old Kian Hawkins with his mum Sharron, Streethouse

A FIGHT to save a children’s heart surgery unit which treats youngsters across the Five Towns has been given fresh hope after a judge ruled part of the consultation had been “unlawful”.

The campaign to save the unit at Leeds General Infirmary was given new hope after Mr Justice Owen upheld a claim that the Royal Brompton Hospital in London had been unfairly rated on research and innovation.

Campaigners hope the ruling will change plans to reduce the number of units in the UK. If Leeds is closed, patients from the district will be faced with two-hour journeys to Liverpool or Newcastle.

A petition of 600,000 signatures has been collected in the fight to save the unit. The Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) hopes a decision will be reached by spring next year.

Mum Sharron Hawkins, 33, of Streethouse, whose son Kian was diagnosed with a rare heart condition at two days old and underwent major surgery at just one week, welcomed the news.

She said: “I think it’s good that they’re looking at the consultation again, but we’ve collected more than 600,000 signatures in support of the unit – what more do we have to do before they’ll listen?

“We have the biggest regional petition which just shows how strongly people feel about the campaign.

“We find it hard enough taking Kian to Leeds – it would be so much harder if he had to go to Newcastle. It would be difficult for him and us. We’d have no support network.

“I hope they keep the unit open.”

Visit www.chsf.org.uk for more information about the campaign.