Plans to centralise child heart surgery at just two locations in the Netherlands have been put on ice after judges ruled in favour of three hospitals fighting the closures.
Health minister Ernst Kuipers, who resigned on Wednesday to take up a new job, said last year that he planned to close the units in Utrecht and Leiden to focus on Rotterdam and Groningen.
This, he said, would increase specialist knowledge and improve the outcomes for children.
The court ruled that while the minister did have the powers to take such decisions “these have to be made carefully and substantiated with facts”. In this case, the court said it concluded that “the minister had not done sufficiently done this”.
The chairmen of Leiden and Utrecht teaching hospitals, and Amsterdam which works with Leiden, have welcomed the decision.
“It is good news for the quality and for access,” they said in a joint statement. “We are calling for more cooperation between the different hospitals so that it is the professionals who travel, not the patients.”
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