CAMPAIGNERS who have fought to save a pioneering children’s heart unit in West Yorkshire will learn today if they have won.
Many of them will be in London for the crucial decision, expected some time in mid afternoon.
But the fight to save the cardiac unit at Leeds General Infirmary – which has helped many Huddersfield children – has been overshadowed by a costs row.
Freedom of Information requests have uncovered that the costs so far of the review by the NHS Safe and Sustainable panel will be more than £2m, and the bulk of the costs have gone on public relations and advertising.
Bob Ward, a grandfather who saw his grandson saved by the unit in Leeds, was told details of the costings which showed £738,000 spent on PR and advertising and a further £383,000 on public meetings.
He said: “I find it puzzling that more was spent on PR than on assessing the units themselves.”
The review has focused on units across the country and most of the options suggest closing the Leeds unit.
A spokesman for NHS Safe and Sustainable said it had been the largest-ever NHS consultation and had generated more than 75,000 responses.
She said the review had gone to great lengths to ensure that anybody who wanted to comment on the proposals had the chance to do so.
Campaigners include Linthwaite mum Gaynor Bearder, whose son Joel was saved by doctors in Leeds. She and others have argued that it would be wrong for families to have to travel to centres such as Newcastle or Birmingham for vital treatment.
She will be in London today for the vital meeting which will make the crucial decisions.
Clr Liz Smaje, Kirklees Council’s representative on the regional joint health scrutiny Committee, will be attending the meeting.
The regional joint health scrutiny committee, which is made up of scrutiny councillors from across Yorkshire and the Humber, was set up to look in detail at the review of children’s congenital heart services in England and the proposal to reduce the number of NHS hospitals that provide heart surgery for children.
The committee published its report in October 2011 concluding that any future model of designated paediatric congenital cardiac surgical centres that did not include a centre in Leeds would have a disproportionately negative impact on the children and families across Yorkshire and the Humber.
The Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) will meet in London today to make their decision and Clr Smaje will be attending to hear the full discussion and decision.