Huge legal bill for Corby urgent care centre case revealed

Lyn Buckingham and Maria Bryan of the Save Corby Urgent Care Centre Action Group NNL-181026-115831005
Lyn Buckingham and Maria Bryan of the Save Corby Urgent Care Centre Action Group NNL-181026-115831005

Lawyers were paid £126k of public money in a legal battle over changes to Corby’s Urgent Care Centre.

The huge cost was run up after local campaigners challenged Corby Clinical Commissioning Group over their decision not to run a full consultation into changes to the town’s treasured walk-in emergency centre in Cottingham Road.

The CCG had wanted to change access to the UCC to an appointment-only system. The Save Corby Urgent Care Centre Action Group launched a judicial review because they said that a full consultation should have been carried out.

The judge, sitting in Cardiff in August, agreed, and ruled against the CCG, ordering them to carry out a full consultation before proposing any more changes.

But the plans have now been scrapped and the CCG is now seeking another provider to run the UCC in its present format for a further three years.

The bill included some of the action group’s costs that the CCG was ordered to pay after they lost the case. But the Save Our UCC group also had to pay trial preparation costs which ran into tens of thousands - raised through an online crowd funding site.

The £126,327.55 legal costs were revealed in a Freedom of Information request submitted to the CCG by the Northants Telegraph.

A Save Corby Urgent Care Centre Action Group spokeswoman said: “We are saddened to learn that so much money entrusted to the CCG by the NHS has been used against local patients and the wider community.

“We are also surprised that despite the CCG trying to use the law to support the need to cut services, they are actually in the same position as they were before they announced their plan to downgrade the UCC.

“The Save Corby Urgent Care Centre Action Group have submitted a question for answer at the next board meeting in public about the commitment the CCG had made concerning extended GP access, which has not been delivered as yet.”

A spokeswoman for NHS Corby Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The result of the judicial review means the Urgent Care Centre must remain unchanged until a full consultation can be run.

“In procuring the UCC contract we are enacting our duty to ensure continuity of care for the people of Corby.

“Our plans were always to retain an urgent service in the town, and to increase the capacity of GP services, both of which local people have clearly told us they want to see.”