Campaigners were left bitterly disappointed as experts decided to move children’s heart surgery out of Leeds.
The decision was made at a meeting in London to centralise the service in Newcastle instead.
Families of sick children and hospital heads were dismayed at the loss to Leeds General Infirmary, which comes despite a massive campaign which attracted huge support from across the region.
The institutions which will now house the specialist surgery centres are: Evelina Hospital, which is part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital Trust, Great Ormond Street, both in London, Southampton General Hospital, Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool.
Mike Collier, Chairman of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “This result flies in the face of logical health care planning and plain common sense.
“We genuinely believe that the decision will not deliver the stated aims of the Safe and Sustainable Paediatric Cardiac Services review.
“This decision seems almost perverse in light of the information which became available during the course of the consultation process. We are surprised that the very clear wishes of over 600,000 people from this region appear to have been disregarded.
“On geography and population density alone the case for Leeds remains as strong as ever. We will now carefully consider, with our supporters, what action to take as a result of this very disappointing decision.”
The Children’s Heart Surgery Fund said it would attempt appeal against the decision.
Charity director Sharon Cheng said: “Today was a rubber stamping exercise. The panel has listened to clinicians and doctors and ultimately decided doctors know best.
“Clinical logic has not been taken into consideration. They have ignored co-location. They have ignored patient choice.
“We will now appeal to the health minister as he assured us a decision would be made on clinical logic. This has not happened today.”
But the Children’s Heart Federation welcomed the decision.
Chief executive Anne Keatley-Clarke said: “The delays to planned improvements in children’s heart services caused a great deal of uncertainty for parents and professionals, so we are pleased for them that this has come to an end.”
NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar said: “This announcement will allow the NHS to get on with making long-overdue and necessary changes.
“We have had eleven years of debate on this issue. Now is the time to act and get children’s care to highest standard possible.”
John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford was originally part of the consultation process but it suspended its children’s heart programme in 2010 following a spate of deaths.