THE LEADER of a Harefield patients group has criticised the money being spent on an "unnecessary" legal wrangle about the future of children's heart surgery.
The Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust was granted permission on Friday to seek a High Court review of the Safe and Sustainable consultation, carried out on behalf of the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT).
It is the first time in history that one body of the NHS has taken another body to court.
David Potter, of Harefield Hospital Re-beat Club, said the money being spent on the battle was "totally unnecessary," although he added that the he felt that the Royal Brompton and Harefield Trust was justified in seeking the review.
He said: "If the NHS was a commercial organisation it would have needed to figure out what it could do to avoid all this and a lot of costs.
"If someone within the NHS had the courage to say 'enough is enough, lets drop the consultation and the plans and ask the three centres in London to work together' then this would end here."
The JCPCT suggested closing the children's heart surgery unit at the Royal Brompton in Chelsea, which critics claimed would have knock on effect at Harefield Hospital in Hill End Road, including feeling the blow of a 10 percent drop in the trust's income.
The Trust claimed that options laid out in the consultation were flawed, making it unlawful.
A review will be held later this year.
Mr Potter said his group's members were holding their breath about what would happen next.
He said: "We want to hear what the trust (JCPCT) intends to do between now and the judicial review.
"I would have thought the sensible thing for them to do is to put the plan on hold until the result."
Bob Bell, chief executive of the Trust, said: "This is extremely good news, first and foremost for patients.
"We have always supported the principle that all babies and children who undergo heart surgery deserve the best possible care, but decisions about the future of such vital services have to be made on the basis of sound, objective evidence, and the decision-making process must, of course, be entirely transparent.
"This is extremely good news, first and foremost for patients.
"While we are pleased that Mr Justice Burnett has granted permission for a full judicial review to take place, it is a great shame that the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts did not listen to our concerns in February.
"Had they agreed to meet us then to discuss the flaws we had discovered, we would undoubtedly not be in this position today."
Jeremy Glyde, programme director for Safe and Sustainable, said: "Safe and Sustainable welcomes the opportunity to present its evidence and will do so robustly. The rationale for change is supported by medical experts, professional associations and leading national heart charities.
"Pooling expertise will help the NHS make further improvements to patient outcomes and deliver a truly excellent service."