A regional daily’s award-winning campaign to save a children’s heart surgery unit from closure has been praised after health bosses finally announced its reprieve.
The Southern Daily Echo launched its Have a Heart campaign after the unit at Southampton General Hospital was put under threat 17 months ago by a national review of the specialist centres.
Its campaign saw more than 250,000 people sign its petition which was presented to Prime Minister David Cameron last year and hailed by the Newspaper Society as one of the biggest of all time.
It also won the Newsquest title the Community Campaign of the Year prize at last year’s EDF Energy London and South of England Media Awards.
On Wednesday, the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts announced the Southampton centre was one of the seven which would be saved and praise was given for the Echo’s campaign.
Sam Prior, whose son Aaron was born with a serious heart defect, said: “A massive thank you to everyone who signed the petition and to the Daily Echo because thanks to their support our fight was kept in the news and helped to show how fantastic our unit is.”
Southampton City Council leader Richard Williams added: “We are absolutely delighted that the JCPCT has fully recognised the excellence of Southampton’s children’s heart unit and have listened to the justified and logical argument to produce this excellent result.
“Southampton City Council commends the Daily Echo for this important campaign which we fully supported and which without doubt significantly contributed to the Trust’s decision to secure our children’s heart unit for the future – well done.”