Campaigners protesting against changes to Corby’s urgent care centre have ‘made legal history’ after a high court judge ruled they were correct to challenge the lack of consultation into the new regime at the emergency facility.
It means there will now have to be a full public consultation into the downgrading of the popular centre in Cottingham Road.
The Save Corby UCC group had asked for a judicial review into the decision of the CCG - which commissions health care in Corby - to not properly consult people in the town over changes including an end to the walk-in system and the removal of the observation ward.
The result of the judicial review was released yesterday and it found that:
- The CCG failed to consult the public despite repeated promises it would do so
- breached its public sector equality duty by failing to consider the impact of the decision on those with learning disabilities, mental health problems and non-English speakers
- and acted in breach of its duty to involve patients in its decision
The ruling by HHJ Jarman QC could have an impact on other CCGs around the country, many of whom are looking at ways to change their own urgent care offer.
The judge held that there had been unequivocal, plain assurances that consultation would be undertaken and that the CCG could show no good reason for not fulfilling the legitimate expectation of consultation which the CCG had raised.
A statement from the protest group Save Corby UCC said: “The Save Corby Urgent Care Action Group is very pleased with the outcome of the judgement.
“We aren’t celebrating though, as this judgement tells us that Corby CCG have not fulfilled their legal obligations and duties.
“That’s a cause for grave concern for patients and the staff they employ.
“We say that the CCG have misinterpreted advice from NHS England, and neglected to listen to or understand that their actions have not only affected public confidence but also that in the absence of real data or proper Equality Impact Assessment, could be putting patients at risk.
“The Action Group agree there are issues with access to primary care in Corby and the surrounding area, but addressing these should not be at the expense of our walk in centre.”
A statement from NHS Corby Clinical Commissioning Group said:
“NHS CCG is disappointed by today’s outcome, but respects the decision made.
“We have engaged intensively with the people of Corby over the past year and a half, and those views directly shaped our proposals to introduce a new Same Day Access Hub. The judge did not consider this proposal to be one which required a full consultation for us to comply with our duties as a CCG. However, he did find that the statements made last year meant the public had been led to expect a consultation. For that reason, a consultation exercise should now follow.
“We will now consider with NHS England as a matter of urgency what further actions we need to take to deliver a consultation.
“Our primary concern is to ensure that we meet our responsibilities to local people. We must ensure there is no disruption when the Urgent Care Centre contract expires next Spring (31 March 2019). The decision makes this more challenging and we will now focus our efforts on addressing that.”