Children’s heart surgery victory

Anne-Marie Sheard fears the children's heart unit in Leeds where her four-year-old son Isaac is treated may close.
Anne-Marie Sheard fears the children's heart unit in Leeds where her four-year-old son Isaac is treated may close.

Ackworth mum Anne-Marie Sheard has spoken of her delight after campaigners trying to keep children’s heart surgery in Leeds won a legal challenge.

Anne-Marie, 41 – whose son five-year-old son Isaac had surgery at Leeds General Infirmary two weeks ago to repair a hole in his heart – said the experience reinforced the need to keep surgery in the city.

She said: “Isaac is doing brilliantly. It was very emotional hearing the news because we had just been through the wringer with Isaac and were on the receiving end of that care.

“It was absolutely fantastic care and to know that’s in jeopardy, it makes you want to fight even harder to keep it.”

Save Our Surgery won its High Court challenge to the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) which announced last year that children’s heart surgery would end in Leeds as part of a national review.

It would mean families having to travel to Newcastle, Liverpool or Birmingham for surgery.

Mrs Justice Nicola Davies ruled the breakdown of scoring of units should have been disclosed to the centres and a further hearing will take place on March 27 to determine what the ‘remedy’ would be.

Anne-Marie added: “It’s absolutely fantastic. We know there’s a long way to go, but to know that we are right and to have it confirmed that the decision was flawed and unfair makes everything we have been fighting for worth it.

“We are just so happy that someone in that position has acknowledged that and we need to move forward to find out how we can continue and hopefully ultimately win.”

Sir Neil McKay, chairman of the JCPCT, said he was disappointed at the ruling.

He added: “We need to understand whether the court will quash the JCPCT’s decision in its entirety, as the claimant seeks, or whether it will impose a less draconian remedy.

“Once we have the court’s judgement on this point, we will strongly consider an appeal if we believe this would enable us to reach a final decision on reconfiguring children’s heart services in a reasonable timeframe.”