AN independent panel is to review the controversial decision to close Leeds children’s heart surgery unit.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has ordered the review after councillors urged him to intervene after NHS bosses chose to strip three hospitals of their ability to carry out cardiac surgery on youngsters.
The Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) will look at the decision to shut services at Leeds General Infirmary, the Glenfield Hospital in Leicester and the Royal Brompton in London.
Ministers had previously said they would take the step in response to concerns from local councillors.
A Department of Health spokesman said: “The Secretary of State has asked the Independent Reconfiguration Panel to conduct a full review of the Safe and Sustainable review of Children’s Congenital Heart Services.”
Councillors from across Yorkshire have agreed to refer the decision to the Health Secretary to ask him to intervene and were seeking more information about how the decision was made before making their formal referral.
Other councillors in Lincolnshire and Leicestershire had already contacted Mr Hunt with fears about their areas, prompting the IRP review.
Coun John Illingworth, chairman of the Yorkshire Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, welcomed the new review.
He added: “It’s to be hoped that the IRP does a good job.
“My fear is that they do a quick once over and we won’t be able to put forward the important points because they won’t show us anything.”
If a judicial review into the decision mounted by Leeds charity the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund goes ahead, the IRP review will be put on hold.
Sharon Cheng, from the charity, said they welcomed the review but added that they hoped councillors were provided with the information they required quickly so their points could be taken on board during the review process.