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Children’s Heart Services

Volume 531: debated on Tuesday 12 July 2011

The consultation on the future of children’s congenital services ended on 1 July. The joint committee of primary care trusts, which is overseeing the consultation, is expected to make a decision later this year, based on an independent analysis of the consultation, reports from overview and scrutiny committees, and a health impact assessment.

I thank the Minister for his reply and his thoughtful response to the Back-Bench debate that took place in the Chamber. Will he ensure that if any further reconfiguration options have emerged from the consultation, they are properly considered and go out to further consultation before a decision is made?

Further to the previous question, if there are further options in addition to the four already presented, I ask that the Government do not rule out looking at the matter again if it is shown that it is possible for Leeds and Newcastle to serve the north of England.

As the hon. Gentleman will appreciate, I do not want to be drawn into that too far because this is an independent assessment by the joint committee of primary care trusts and I do not want to be seen to be interfering, but I can say that neither we nor the JCPCT have ever said categorically exactly how many centres there should be. It will be up to the JCPCT, as it considers the representations it receives, to decide how many there should be. If it decides to have more than four, it would not need the processes that he is suggesting because it has the power within its remit to increase the number if it thinks circumstances warrant it.