Leicestershire MPs take Glenfield Hospital heart unit fight to House of Commons
MPs are taking the fight to save children's heart surgery at Leicester's Glenfield Hospital to the House of Commons.
They have won the right for a three-hour Parliamentary debate on the crucial issue after more than 102,000 people signed an online petition.
It is scheduled to take place on Monday evening.
Campaigners hoped by reaching the 100,000 threshold MPs would be able to lobby for the debate, but it was not guaranteed.
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Only 14 other online petitions have reached or exceeded the 100,000 signatory thresholds and gone before Parliament.
Harborough MP Sir Edward Garnier successfully applied for the debate.
He said: "The future of the heart centre is of vital concern to people living in my constituency and the entire county. But it goes beyond that. Patients across the country and abroad are treated by the cardiac team at the unit.
"It would not just be a mistake to close it, but a disaster.
"This is the first opportunity as a backbencher to see what I could do to nail this issue."
The petition was launched in July, days after an NHS review of children's heart surgery in England cut the number of hospitals providing the service from 11 to seven.
Glenfield Hospital was one of four centres told it will have to stop surgery for children born with heart defects. It means children will have to travel to Birmingham for operations and the children's specialist extra corporeal membrane oxygenation (Ecmo) treatment will stop at Glenfield.
Ecmo oxygenates blood outside the body, taking pressure off the heart and lungs.
Protests over the decision included two marches organised by patient Ria Pahwa, 14, from Rushey Mead.
She said: "I hope Glenfield didn't fix my heart just for this devastating decision to break it. The decision to close the heart centre is wrong."
Giles Peek, a children's heart surgery consultant, said: "We are delighted Sir Edward has secured this debate to enable an open and honest look at the concerns raised by independent experts."
Leicestershire MPs will meet Glenfield Hospital doctors before taking part in the debate.
Leicester West MP Liz Kendall said: "I will be making a strong case for Glenfield and outlining all the evidence such as the risks of losing our children's Ecmo service."
Leicester South MP Jon Ashworth said: "I will be making the case that children's heart surgery and Ecmo should remain at Glenfield."
Loughborough MP Nicky Morgan will not be able to speak as she is a Government whip but said she will be there supporting colleagues.
Ms Morgan said: "This is a really important issue and it means a minister has to be in Parliament, listening to the arguments."
North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen said: "There are a number of queries about the review I intend to raise during the debate."
Campaigner Gill Smart, from the Leicestershire charity Heart Link, said: "This is people power.
"We owe a heartfelt thanks to the general public who gave up their time to support us."
Adam Tansey, from Burbage, whose son Albert was born with half a heart, said: "This is another step in the right direction. We are pleased Sir Edward has secured this debate."
Eric Charlesworth, from health watchdog the Leicester and Leicestershire local involvement network, said he was "delighted" the debate was happening.
Campaigners are still waiting to hear what advice the Government's Independent Reconfiguration Panel has given Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt about the review findings.