A controversial decision to close three children's heart surgery units in England has been halted by the Government amid threats of legal action and growing protests from MPs and families.
The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has ordered the Independent Reconfiguration Panel to carry out a review into the decision to close the congenital heart surgery units at Leeds General Infirmary, Glenfield Hospital in Leicester and the Royal Brompton in Chelsea, west London, by 2014.
The panel will decide by next February whether it believes the recommendations to focus children's heart surgery at the seven remaining hospitals will deliver the promised improvements in safety and quality of care for patients.
The announcement came during an impassioned House of Commons debate about the future of heart surgery services and was greeted with joy by dozens of MPs who have been lobbying for a rethink.
But the delay will undoubtedly cause fury among medical experts who say expertise is being spread too thinly.
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