THE trust that runs Harefield Hospital will have to pay out £1million in costs, after losing a court case.
On Thursday last week, a panel of Appeal Court judges overturned a previous ruling that a consulation carried out by another arm of the NHS into plans to shut a children’s heart surgery unit at the Royal Brompton hospital was unlawful.
It is a huge blow for the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, which will now have to find funds to pay for the case, estimated at £1.2million.
The Children’s Heart Federation said it was horrified at the expenditure.
Anne Keatley-Clarke, chief executive, said: “These resources should instead be spent on improving children’s heart services.”
Dennis Gulliford, secretary of Harefield Hospital support group, Re-Beat, said: “Obviously we are disappointed.”
He added after the successful fight 10 years ago to halt a “disastrous” move to Paddington they had seen Harefield settle down and improve.
“We have a got a high regard for the unit at the Royal Brompton,” he admitted.
But he added: “As it has turned out, having lost the case one wonders whether [the money] was justified.
“The terrible thing is once you get involved in the law there is no end to the costs.
“But they thought they had a very good case. It is unfortunate that the powers that be did not agree.”
The case was the first where one NHS body has taken another to court.
In a strongly-worded statement, a hopsital trust spokeswoman said it regretted having to divert resources to the courtroom battle: “We tried hard to avoid the legal route but when serious assaults are made on patient care, when internationally acclaimed clinical teams are effectively put on notice, when groundbreaking research teams who may be on the cusp of a significant breakthrough in cystic fibrosis tell us their research will not be possible under the proposals put forward, drastic measures are called for.
“We had to fight to protect the needs of patients – now and in the future. What better cause is there than the health of vulnerable children?”
A decision on the unit’s future will not be made before July.
If it does close it will mean a 10 per cent reduction in funds for the trust. Health groups fear it could lead to redundancies and service cuts at Harefield Hospital in Hill End Road.