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Last Updated: Friday, 8 June 2007, 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK
Parents lose A&E closure appeal
Jordan-Lee Fitton
Jordan-Lee needs urgent medical treatment when he suffers fits
The parents of a severely disabled boy have failed in their High Court bid to get permission to challenge the closure of a hospital's A&E unit.

David and Lisa-Louise Fitton's son Jordan-Lee, from Smallbridge, Rochdale, suffers convulsions and needs urgent treatment when attacks occur.

When the seven-year-old fails to respond to drugs, he has to be rushed to Rochdale Infirmary's A&E department.

The unit's closure means he would have a 25-minute journey to get treatment.

Under current plans for health services in the north-east Manchester area, it is proposed following a Healthy Futures review by local primary care trusts to downgrade the A&E unit in Rochdale to an urgent care centre.

'Great blow'

However, Mr Justice Bennett, sitting at London's High Court, ruled the case launched on behalf of Jordan-Lee Fitton was "unarguable" and his application for permission to seek judicial review must be dismissed.

He said he realised his decision would "come as a great blow to the claimant and his family and the public in Rochdale".

Rochdale Infirmary
The unit at Rochdale will be replaced with a "care centre"

Prior to the hearing Jordan-Lee's father, David, said the proximity of Rochdale Infirmary's emergency department was integral to his son's existence.

The youngster, who uses a wheelchair, was born with global development delay, which prevents him from walking or talking. His brother, Dion, died aged five from the same condition.

In court, Matt Kelly QC asked Mr Justice Bennett to allow the family to seek judicial review on the grounds that local health service officials had carried out a legally-flawed public consultation exercise.

However, lawyers representing the health service said the impact of the changes would not be "as great or disastrous" as the family fear.

Massive expenditure

If an emergency arose, ambulance officers could give Jordan-Lee immediate care while he was taken to the Royal Oldham A&E or he could be stabilised at the new centre at Rochdale before being transferred to Oldham.

Jenni Richards, appearing for the NHS, told the court: "The defendant's position is clearly that decisions on NHS reorganisation cannot sensibly be taken by reference to the needs of an individual patient."

Mr and Mrs Fitton's campaign to protect their son's lifeline will continue
Richard Scorer, solicitor

She added that the consultation process already undertaken had cost up to 1m and that there could be further "massive expenditure" from the public purse if the committee is forced to consult again.

A Healthy Futures spokesperson said: "We note the judge's decision to reject the application for judicial review.

"Today's decision does not affect the ongoing review by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel, which will submit its recommendations to the Health Secretary by 26 June.

"We will now await the Independent Reconfiguration Panel's recommendations and the Health Secretary's subsequent decision on whether or not Healthy Futures should be implemented."

A statement from the Fitton's solicitor Richard Scorer, a partner with solicitors' firm Pannone LLP, said: "Mr and Mrs Fitton are deeply disappointed by this decision.

"There is ample medical evidence that the downgrading of accident and emergency services at Rochdale Infirmary poses risks to the health and well-being of many vulnerable people in the Rochdale area, including Jordan Fitton.

"Some 37,000 people in Rochdale signed petitions opposing the closure.

"Mr and Mrs Fitton's campaign to protect their son's lifeline will continue."


SEE ALSO
Parents to challenge A&E closure
07 Jun 07 |  Manchester
Hospital closure 'inflicts pain'
15 Sep 06 |  Manchester
Closure planned for hospital A&E
14 Sep 06 |  Manchester
Decision on hospital department
14 Sep 06 |  Manchester
Hospital fight taken to capital
12 Apr 06 |  Manchester

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