Legal-row hospital to learn fate
A leading hospital which was at the centre of a bitter legal dispute is to learn whether its children's heart surgery unit is to close.
The Royal Brompton in Chelsea, west London, argued that the consultations around the streamlining of paediatric heart surgery services in England were unlawful.
But the hospital, which is the largest specialist heart and lung centre in the UK and among the largest centres in Europe, lost the legal row in April after it fought all the way to the Court of Appeal.
The row stemmed from a consultation process launched by the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) of England as part of a national review aimed at streamlining paediatric congenital cardiac surgery services (PCCS).
The Safe and Sustainable review followed the landmark inquiry into children's heart surgery at Bristol Royal Infirmary between 1990 and 1995, where up to 35 children and babies died as a result of poor care.
In the wake of the inquiry, it was recommended that paediatric cardiac units be set a target for the number of operations per year, and surgery be concentrated in a few specialist centres in order to ensure quality of care.
One of the options being considered by the JCPCT was to run just two centres in London. There are currently three.
The Royal Brompton argued that the proposals could put its future in doubt, but the Court of Appeal ruled that the consultation process was fair. The JCPCT is now due to decide which of the 11 specialist units in England will stay open.
As few as six of the 11 units could remain open. The 11 hospitals include three London hospitals - the Royal Brompton, Evelina Hospital, which is part of Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital Trust and Great Ormond Street - and eight more around the country.
The other institutions which will learn their fate today are: the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, Leeds General Infirmary, Birmingham Children's Hospital, Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool, Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, Southampton General Hospital and Bristol Royal Hospital for Children.