CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save services at the Royal Brompton Hospital could find out within days whether it will have to stop carrying out heart surgery on children.
The hospital’s heart unit for children is under threat in a national review of children’s cardiac facilities, with Great Ormond Street and the Evelina at St Thomas’s hospitals earmarked as the only London sites to retain services.
A High Court judge ruled in November that the consultation process carried out by the Safe and Sustainable Review team, set by the Department of Helath, was unfair to the hospital, which is in Sydney Street, Chelsea.
However, an appeal against that ruling was heard on Monday and Tuesday by Court of Appeal judges.
A spokeswoman for the Brompton argued that the possiblity of keeping three London centres had not been included in the consultation and not enough weight had been placed on the importance and quality of research at the hospital.
She also questioned the presence on the review’s steering group of doctors from the two hospitals that would retain services.
The loss of services would have a major knock-on effect, including the closure of the Brompton’s children’s intensive care unit, she said.
Dr Neil Gibson, a consultant in paediatric respiratory medicine who investigated the impacts of abolishing children’s heart surgery at the hospital, said: “There is a significant potential for irreparable damage to the only world-class paediatric respiratory research unit in the country.
“The unit at the Royal Brompton, from a paediatric respiratory point of view, is truly one of the world’s leading centres with an impressive track record.
“I fear there is a very real threat to that work from the implications of removing cardiac surgical services.”
Jeremy Glyde, director of the Safe and Sustainable programme said: “Parent groups and professional associations have told us making changes to children’s congenital heart services is urgent, so we are pleased that the appeal has been heard this week.
“We believe the consultation was carried out lawfully and the decision-makers stand ready to consider the 75,000 consultation responses and other evidence should the initial verdict be overturned.”