Hopes that minister could throw heart unit a lifeline
Campaigners are hoping Health Secretary Andrew Lansley could help their fight to keep specialist heart services for children at Glenfield Hospital.
The hospital was told the service would be moved to Birmingham following a national review which ended in July.
But University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust believes the decision was flawed.
The board has now drawn up a clinical report which it hopes will persuade the Health Secretary that the service at Glenfield is too valuable to lose.
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It warns that Birmingham Children's Hospital would not have the capacity to cope with the increase in demand and that the closure of the specialist Ecmo unit would cost lives.
Lead cardiologist Dr Aidan Bolger, who helped present the report at a meeting yesterday, said: "We don't believe that Birmingham Children's Hospital has the capacity to handle the expected demand."
He said the report contained up-to-date population figures following the latest census, which were not previously available to the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) – the body that made the decision to move the service.
Dr Bolger said: "We stressed that Ecmo mortality will increase during the transition – which means lives will be lost, not saved.
"We also said if the Glenfield paediatric intensive care unit closed, general paediatric intensive care capacity in the Midlands – and especially the East Midlands – will be insufficient to deal with demand."
The board will give the report to the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland's health scrutiny committees, which have the power to pass it on to Mr Lansley and ask him to refer the decision to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP).
The IRP would then examine the report and advise Mr Lansley on whether the decision should be reconsidered.
The scrutiny committees, which have supported the campaign to save the service in the past, are due to meet on Tuesday to consider the next steps.
Board interim chief executive Jim Birrell said: "Ultimately, any change to the decision will have to come as a result of advice from the IRP to the Secretary of State for Health."
He said the board had ruled out any legal challenge to the decision after taking legal advice.
Campaigners have welcomed the move.
Adam Tansey, who set up the Keep the Beat charity to support the Glenfield unit, where his young son, Albert, is being treated, said: "I hope the strong clinical case which has been put together will persuade the IRP to recommend that Glenfield should be retained."
Mr Tansey, from Burbage, has launched an e-petition challenging the closure.
He said: "I would urge people to continue to sign the e-petition. We have collected more than 62,400 signatures but we need 100,000 before we can trigger a debate in Parliament."
The report, which took six weeks to prepare, has also been presented to JCPCT chairman Sir Neil McKay, who was ultimately responsible for making the decision to stop the service in Leicester.
Mr Birrell said: "He has agreed to examine the data underpinning our clinical case. We think that this is a pragmatic and reasonable response."
To sign the e-petition, go to: