Glenfield Hospital: Inspectors to review move decision
Government advisors are visiting Leicester's Glenfield Hospital to review a decision to move children's heart surgery procedures to Birmingham.
In July, the NHS named the hospital as one of three nationally to be affected.
During a three-day visit, officers from the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) will collate evidence and speak to staff and patients.
Their findings will then be handed to Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt in February.
The centre, which conducts about 230 operations on children each year, has the UK's largest ExtraCorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) unit, which oxygenates blood of critically ill patients.
One of the charities at the hospital, Heart Link, which supports children and their parents with heart conditions, is in favour of the review and staff will speak to inspectors during their visit.
Jill Smart, treasurer of Heart Link, said: "We are so pleased we have been given another chance.
"Glenfield has got a lot to lose and my worry is that lives are going to be lost if the service is moved.
"ECMO is our biggest life saver, it is very unique and world renowned. A lot of children owe their lives to it and we will fight to the bitter end."
The Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee called for a review into how recommendations were reached by the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT).
The JCPCT said creating fewer and larger centres would improve the service and recommended that Glenfield's Children's Congenital Heart Surgery unit and Children's ECMO equipment, should go to Birmingham.
The unit will stop surgery for children but will remain open to diagnose patients, for monitoring and non-surgical treatment.
A spokeswoman for the JCPCT said they would "work closely with the IRP and would co-operate fully to provide them with everything they need for the review".
Lord Bernard Ribeiro, chairman of the IRP, said: "The panel's key focus will be children with congenital heart disease and the quality of care they need to receive.
"We will ensure the recommendations we make are in the best interests of the children - and their families - that need to access these services."
The IRP will report its findings on 28 February.