Leicester Glenfield Hospital heart unit fight 'takes step in right direction'
Campaigners say their fight to save children's heart surgery at Glenfield Hospital has taken a step in the right direction.
New Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has agreed to order a review of decision to relocate the service from Leicester to Birmingham as part of a Government shake-up.
It comes after a committee of councillors from the city, county and Rutland wrote to Mr Hunt, asking him rethink the move.
The Secretary of State has agreed to have an Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) – a body set up to consider disputed or controversial NHS decisions – look at the issue.
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Mr Hunt announced his decision in a letter to Michael Cooke, a city councillor and chairman of the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Health, Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which wrote to the Health Secretary.
In the letter, Mr Hunt said: "Should the IRP advise me that a full review is necessary, you will have the chance to present your case to them in full."
He has asked the IRP to report back to him no later than September 21.
Councillor Cooke said: "This is certainly a step in the right direction.
"We wanted our case to be considered alongside a referral that had already been made by Lincolnshire Council, and this will now happen."
Lincolnshire asked the Health Secretary to look at the decision to close Glenfield because children from that county born with heart problems are treated in Leicester.
Coun Cooke said: "We have some new evidence which was not available at the time this decision was made, and we are hopeful that when this is considered in full the Secretary of State will see there are grounds for the decision to be reversed.
"I would like to ask people to show their support for keeping these excellent facilities in Glenfield by signing the online petition.
"We have more than 68,000 signatures, but if it reaches 100,000 the matter will be debated in the House of Commons.
"The original decision was flawed. We can't understand why anybody in their right mind would close one of the best centres for children's heart surgery in the world.
"We feel there is compelling evidence for Glenfield to remain open and we are a step closer to being able to present it."
Earlier this year, it was decided, after a review, that children's heart centre at Glenfield would close, and services moved to Birmingham, along with the children's Ecmo treatment service.
Zuffar Haq, chairman of the Leicester Patients' Group and as member of the Leicester Mercury Patients' Panel, said: "It is good Mr Hunt is willing to reconsider."