Heart unit victory in the High Court

Cassie Symms with daughter Avril and son Zander
Cassie Symms with daughter Avril and son Zander

A Dinnington mum is celebrating after protesters won a High Court battle against plans to remove children’s heart surgery from Leeds.

The Save Our Surgery group launched the legal challenge against the NHS Joint Committee of Primary Care Trust.

The group argued the public consultation and subsequent decision to close the specialist children’s heart unit in Leeds was unlawful - and the High Court agreed.

Cassie Symms has been heavily involved in the campaign from the beginning.

Her son Zander Jak was born with a hole in the heart, and had specialist surgery at the Leeds unit in 2011.

“Today’s decision doesn’t automatically mean surgery will stay in Leeds, but it’s a massive step in the right direction,” she said.

Cassie, along with thousands of other campaigners, said plans to make local parents travel all the way to Liverpool or Newcastle if Leeds were to close was unacceptable.

Sharon Cheng of Save Our Surgery said she was ‘extremely pleased’ the High Court had ruled in their favour.

“This judgment finally confirms what we have always believed: that the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts’ review process and decision to remove children’s heart surgery services from Leeds was unlawful,” she said.

“Winning this case in the High Court proves once and for all that the supposed consultation was a rubber stamping exercise conducted with an outcome in mind, with clinicians, MPs and patients fooled into feeling they had influence.”

“This action was taken by parents and clinicians who simply could not stand by and watch a clear injustice being done.”

She said the ruling supported their belief that patients’ needs should be at the forefront in determining where heart surgery services are located.

“We will now wait to understand the next steps in terms of what this decision means for the overall Safe and Sustainable Review and its implementation,” she added.