People power forces review of heart unit closure plans

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Plans to close a children’s heart unit relied upon by families in Boston are to be fully reviewed, following pressure from members of the public and Lincolnshire County Council.

The unit, at Leicester’s Glenfield Hospital, is the closest one providing specialist services for dealing with congenital heart conditions.

It faces the axe following an NHS review earlier this year when officials said they wanted to focus services on fewer larger units. Closure would mean families in Boston would have to travel to London for similar services.

But now it may not come to that, after the secretary of state for health sanctioned a full review of the closure of the facility when he was challenged by the health scrutiny committee for Lincolnshire.

Hundreds of people have campaigned against the potential closure since it was announced in July, and a petition forced a discussion in Westminster on the matter.

Coun Christine Talbot, chairman of the health scrutiny Committee for Lincolnshire, said: “This is excellent news and I’m really pleased for the parents and local campaigners who helped to raise the profile of this issue. Of course, parents would travel anywhere for their children but, in addition to the added stress, time to do so is not always on their side.

“We firmly believe that the tremendous facilities at Glenfield should remain available to Lincolnshire families and, with the Government requiring health scrutiny committees to make official challenges, we’re delighted to have got this far with the review decision. The work of our committee in achieving this, supported in magnificent measure by the local and passionate support, should be praised highly but we won’t stop there. We’ll now do everything we can during the review to put the case forward and hope for the right outcome for our county’s children.”

The review will be completed by February 2013.