A JUDGE has ordered NHS bosses to hand over information about the controversial decision to shut Leeds children’s heart surgery unit.
A long-running bid by a Leeds councillor led to heads at NHS England being told they must produce documents about the plans, now overturned.
An Information Commisioner’s tribunal, sitting at Leeds Magistrates Court, ordered the release of details Coun John Illingworth had requested under the Freedom of Information Act by the end of the month.
Coun Illingworth said: “I am delighted, thrilled to bits,” he said. “I thought they would just trample all over us.”
The tribunal follows a long dispute about the release of data relating to children’s heart surgery in England.
A nationwide review took place over several years, culminating in the recommendation in 2012 that Leeds General Infirmary should stop providing heart surgery for youngsters.
However this decision was overturned last year and a new review is now underway.
Coun Illingworth – chairman of a committee of Yorkshire councillors who have voiced their opposition – had asked for various pieces of information relating to the way the first review was carried out.
Some was released, but some requests were turned down on the basis that retrieving it would take longer than 18 hours, the legal limit.
However the tribunal overturned an earlier appeal and ruled: “We do not think that it would have taken more than 18 hours for a reasonably well-informed and conscientious official to locate, retrieve and/or extract the information.”
A spokeswoman for NHS England said: “NHS England is aware of the decision by the Information Tribunal.
“We will carefully consider the notice provided by the tribunal and take forward the instructions in accordance with the FOI Act.”
Another case brought regarding different information on children’s heart surgery is ongoing.