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Review into kids' surgery closure 'appropriate'.

THE consultation into the future of children's heart services in Yorkshire was conducted appropriately, a panel has found.

The Independent Reconfiguration Panel was asked by the Yorkshire and Humber Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) to look at the "inadequate consultation with the Joint HOSC".

Despite widespread opposition to the suggested closure of the Yorkshire children's heart unit, based at Leeds General Infirmary, the deciding panel's favoured option is to close the unit. It would mean relocating Huddersfield children's heart services to either Newcastle and Liverpool.

But the IRP says it does not consider that a full review into the consultation would add any value.

A report says: "The Safe and Sustainable team appears to have made efforts to inform HOSCs in advance of the intention to conduct a national consultation and to encourage the establishment of a national joint HOSC.

"But, for whatever reason, this did not happen and, in the absence of a national joint HOSC to scrutinise the proposals and respond to the consultation, engagement with all interested HOSCs inevitably became a complex matter."

It admits that there had been "breakdowns in communications and relationships" between the Joint HOSC and the deciding panel.

Sir Neil McKay, chairman of that panel, the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts, said: "I am pleased that the external assessment shows that we have consulted appropriately with Yorkshire and Humber Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

"As this is a complex national review we provided all overview and scrutiny bodies seven months to consider our proposals and to provide their feedback, however I fully recognise that individual HOSCs (and joint committees where they were formed on a regional basis) face considerable pressures in responding to consultations of this nature."

A final decision into the future of the unit has been delayed due to legal action being taken by a leading hospital over the consultation.
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Feb 25, 2012
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