24/Apr/2014 - Last News Update: 23:35

Legal bid over Royal Brompton Hospital heart unit lost

Category: England

Published: 19th Apr 2012 11:54:56

A consultation that led to the proposed closure of a paediatric heart unit at a west London hospital was lawful, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

The Royal Brompton Hospital challenged the way the consultation was carried out by the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT).

The JCPCT will make its final decision on the paediatric cardiac surgical unit in Chelsea in July.

The hospital has claimed the closure would be "bureaucratic vandalism".

The JCPCT's move is part of a national review aimed at streamlining and moving paediatric congenital cardiac surgery services (PCCS) to fewer sites across England.

Its consultation document said keeping two of the three specialist units in London - the Evelina Hospital, a part of Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital Trust, and Great Ormond Street - was the "preferred option". The Royal Brompton in Chelsea is the third centre.

In November, Mr Justice Owen at the High Court said the JCPCT's consultation was "distorted" as it had failed to assess fairly the quality of the hospital's research and innovation. But that ruling was overturned by the Court of Appeal.

Three appeal judges, Lady Justice Arden, Lord Justice Richards and Sir Stephen Sedley, said "the consultation process cannot be said to be unfair".

It was action of the last resort and taken with a heavy heart”

The judges praised the "excellence" of the hospital and added: "A member of the public might well find it difficult to understand why a centre of the standard of the Royal Brompton should cease to be a centre for paediatric cardiac surgical services under the configuration exercise."

A statement from the Royal Brompton Hospital said: "We look forward to the decision-making body, the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts, considering all relevant information when coming to a decision about the future of children's heart surgery in England, which we understand will not be taken before July.

"The trust took this legal action on behalf of patients and their families. It was action of the last resort and taken with a heavy heart, after a number of attempts to settle the matter at an earlier stage failed.

"We remain convinced that our highly respected services for patients in England and Wales will be harmed if our unit is dismantled as a consequence of the Safe and Sustainable process to date."

Speaking for the JCPCT, former national director for heart disease and stroke Sir Roger Boyle made it clear that the option of three surgical centres in London was not ruled out.

He said: "Now that the Safe and Sustainable consultation is no longer quashed, the Joint Committee is able to consider people's consultation responses and the other evidence received.

"With an open mind the Joint Committee will give further consideration to options for change that include three surgical centres in London and to new proposals that have been submitted during consultation.

"The decision-making committee will carefully consider all the evidence and prepare to make a final decision at a meeting in public on 4 July."

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BBC News, 2012. Legal bid over Royal Brompton Hospital heart unit lost [Online] (Updated 19th Apr 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1423282/Legal-bid-over-Royal-Brompton-Hospital-heart-unit-lost [Accessed 25th Apr 2014]

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