BOSSES at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle were “disappointed” at the High Court ruling.
In a statement, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “We remain confident the original decision will be upheld and the Freeman Hospital will be one of the designated centres providing specialist children’s cardiac surgery, for which our performance and high quality is recognised internationally.
“We are disappointed the implementation of the review will be further delayed by this litigation.
“Newcastle Hospitals gives reassurance that our first and foremost consideration will remain the interests of children and their families under our care and we will not allow delays in the review to compromise the quality of our excellent service.”
SOS spokeswoman Sharon Cheng said outside the Royal Courts of Justice that the ruling did not necessarily mean the Leeds heart unit was saved, and much would depend on what orders the judge decided to make when the matter returns to court later this month.
Nearly 600,000 people signed a petition against the Leeds unit closing.
Children in the area will have to travel to Newcastle or Liverpool for surgery if it closed.
The essence of the Safe and Sustainable review was to reduce the number of childrens heart unit centres from 11 to seven.
The option chosen on the basis of “quality of service” meant the Leeds centre would be among those to close.
During the February hearing, tensions emerged between Leeds and Newcastle.
Fennella Morris QC, appearing for Newcastle, said it was part of the Leeds case that sub-scores would reveal “Newcastle’s inferiority”.
Ms Morris said Newcastle scored significantly higher than Leeds, and that was hardly surprising as Newcastle was “one of the top centres in the world” for heart surgery.
The children’s heart unit at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle was a national and international leader in healthcare and conducted pioneering research work and transplant surgery.
Philip Havers, QC for SOS, said there was no hostility or ill feeling towards Newcastle on the part of Leeds, and it was “very much regretted” if that was the way SOS arguments had been interpreted.
It was not being suggested by Leeds that there was “something fundamentally wrong or inferior” about the Newcastle centre, he told the judge.