Hospital in legal battle over plans to end heart service

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A HOSPITAL which offers specialist heart treatment for children from Worthing has launched a legal challenge against plans to end its services.

The Royal Brompton Hospital, in London, which has an outreach clinic at Worthing Hospital, appeared at the High Court of Justice in London this week to challenge a government recommendation to end its services as a children’s heart surgery centre.

This follows government recommendations in February to reduce the number of children’s heart centres from three to two, which were approved after a four-month public consultation.

A final decision following the consultation has not yet been made.

The Brompton argues the consultation process was “deeply flawed” as doctors from the two hospitals which kept their status as children’s heart surgery centres were on the committee which made the decision, while the Brompton was unrepresented.

Bob Bell, chief executive of Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We remain firm in our view that the public consultation on plans to end children’s heart surgery at Royal Brompton was unlawful.

“Our decision to take legal action has been taken with deep regret. But the gravity of consequences for patients of this deeply flawed consultation process left us no other option.”

A spokeswoman for the Royal Brompton said the court hearing would end on Thursday, with a decision being made in the next few weeks.