Review to hear the case for retaining heart unit
Campaigners fighting to save children's heart surgery at Glenfield Hospital are to spell out their case to an independent review panel.
The public can also give their views and provide evidence on why operations for children born with heart defects should carry on at the centre.
The review is being carried out by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel, whose members are experts on changes to health services.
Lord Ribeiro, chairman of the panel, said: "The key focus throughout the review will be children with congenital heart disease and the quality of care they need to receive.
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"We will gather evidence from a range of people and listen to all interested parties to ensure the recommendations we make are in the best interests of children across England that need to access these services and their families."
Panel members have already paid a preliminary visit to Glenfield Hospital to meet doctors and councillors from the joint Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland health scrutiny committee.
They will spend three days in the city from Monday, November 26, hearing why people believe Glenfield Hospital should remain as a children's heart centre.
The centre was one of four earmarked for closure in July following an NHS review of children's heart surgery in England, which cut the number of hospitals providing the service from 11 to seven.
The decision meant children born with heart problems would in the near future have to go to Birmingham for their operations.
The specialist children's extra corporeal membrane oxygenation (Ecmo) service would also move.
More than 107,000 people have signed an online petition protesting at the move.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt asked for a review of the decision and referred it to the reconfiguration panel.
Leicester city councillor Michael Cooke, chairman of the committee, said: "This review is very encouraging and we will be presenting our evidence as to why Glenfield should remain a children's heart unit.
"It is an important issue for people, not just in Leicestershire but across the East Midlands."
Adam Tansey, of Burbage, founder of the charity Keep the Beat, who set up the petition, said: "This will be a good opportunity to put forward the large number of concerns we have about the decision that has been made.
"As time goes on, it is becoming more apparent that there are issues with the initial review and that the data used was not as robust as we thought."
Mark Wightman, director of communications at Leicester's hospitals, said: "We have had an informal meeting with panel representatives ahead of the formal process.
"The meeting was constructive and we were encouraged by their approach."
Sir Neil McKay, chairman of the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT), which made the decision to cut the number of children's heart centres, said: "We will work closely with the Independent Reconfiguration Panel to assist the panel's review of the JCPCT's decision in whatever way possible."
People who want to put new evidence or their views to the panel can do so by writing to IRP, 6th Floor, 157-197 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW11W 9SP, by leaving a voice message on 01207 389 8046 or by e-mail to: