Archbishop welcomes Leeds hospital verdict

The Archbishop of York has spoken of his delight after campaigners won a High Court challenge against the closure of a children's heart surgery unit at Leeds General Infirmary.

The unit serves children from across Yorkshire and the Humber but closing the unit would force children from the region to travel to Newcastle or Liverpool for operations.

The ruling is a victory for local campaigners who have fought a lengthy battle against closure. Strength of local feeling was demonstrated in a petition organised by the campaigners signed by nearly 600,000 people.  

Archbishop John Sentamu was vocal in his support of the unit. During a visit earlier this year, he called upon the hospital to continue providing heart surgery services for children.

He welcomed the High Court verdict today, which found that the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts' review process and decision was unfair and legally flawed.

"It is utterly unjustified and unethical that the Leeds unit could be earmarked for closure without the full facts being properly considered," the Archbishop said.

"I hope that the independent review which has been set up to re-examine the provision of heart surgery across the country is carried out properly and makes its decisions based on hard evidence.

"It is vital that the right decisions are made as this will determine how children with congenital heart disease are treated for decades to come – we cannot afford to rush and make a bodge job of this."