CCG slammed for misleading the public about outcome of legal case

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June 11, 2014 by Protect Our NHS

Bristol CCG was today exposed for trying to hide the fact that it had admitted acting unlawfully and had agreed to take steps to correct its unlawful actions. Instead of being open about its failings, the CCG attempted to mislead the public about the outcome of a court action brought against it by local patients by suggesting that the action had been “dropped”.

The patients had taken Judicial Review proceedings because the CCG had breached its legal duties to involve patients in its decision making. Initially the CCG denied that it had acted unlawfully but, once proceedings were issued, Bristol CCG backed down, admitted that it had acted unlawfully and agreed to revise a series of its policies and its core constitution to bring them into line with the law. The CCG also agreed to pay 80% of the legal costs of the patients as part of the settlement.

However, after this humiliating climb down, the CCG put out a press release which claimed the patients had “dropped” the legal challenge and effectively suggested that the legal challenge did not achieve anything. A furious Steve Timmins of Protect Our NHS said

“The CCG’s press release is totally misleading and we have a court order to prove it. The CCG admitted that they had acted unlawfully and, as terms of the settlement, they have agreed to revise a range of their public engagement policies. They originally threatened us with a legal costs order but, after they accepted they had acted unlawfully, they agreed to pay 80% of our legal costs. It was therefore not necessary for us to go to court to prove the CCG acted unlawfully because they admitted it and so we withdrew the challenge.”

He added

“It is completely misleading to suggest that the CCG would have taken all these steps if we had not started court proceedings. Their initial stance was to reject all our complaints. They are only revising their policies and changing their constitution because we pointed out that they were breaking the law.

How can the CCG expect the public to trust them to run our health services if they cannot even fairly report the outcome of a court challenge brought against them?”

For further information please contact:
Protect our NHS – Steve Timmins on 07841 238588
Leigh Day – David Standard on 07540 332717

Notes for Editors 1.
The Court Order
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE CLAIM NO CO/1849/14
QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION
ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
BETWEEN:

ANTHONY HORWOOD (1)
HILARY SAUNDERS (2)
Claimants

-and-

BRISTOL CLINICAL COMMISSIONING GROUP
Defendant
______________

ORDER
______________

UPON reading letters of consent to the terms of this order from solicitors for the Claimants and solicitors for the Defendant

AND UPON the Defendant undertaking to follow the steps set out in the Schedule hereto

BY CONSENT AND WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE COURT IT IS ORDERED THAT:

1. The Claimants’ application for judicial review is withdrawn.

2. The Defendant shall pay 80% of the Claimants’ costs of and occasioned by this action to be assessed on the standard basis if not agreed.

Leigh Day Bevan Brittan LLP
Priory House Kings Orchard
25 St John’s Lane 1 Queen Street
London EC1M 4LB Bristol BS2 0HQ

DX 53326 Clerkenwell DX 7828 Bristol 1

Solicitors for the Claimants Solicitors for the Defendant

Ref: REC/NQE/00092324/1 Ref: EJH/FM/101425/24

SCHEDULE

Patient and Public Involvement Strategy

1. The Defendant shall within 14 days of the date of this Order provide the Claimants with a copy of a proposed amended Patient and Public Involvement Strategy (“the draft amended PPI Strategy”). This document shall explain the arrangements the Defendant has in place under section 14Z2(2) of the National Health Service Act 2006 to secure patient and public involvement:
a. in the planning of the commissioning arrangements by the Defendant;
b. in the development and consideration of proposals by the Defendant for changes in the commissioning arrangements where the implementation of the proposals would have an impact on the manner in which the services are delivered to the individuals or the range of health services available to them; and
c. in decisions of the Defendant affecting the operation of the commissioning arrangements where the implementation of the decisions would (if made) have such an impact.

2. The Defendant shall within 14 days of the date of this Order publish its draft amended PPI Strategy on its website inviting responses from the Claimants and the public generally concerning the said document, for a period of 28 days.

3. Upon the close of the said period of 28 days, the Defendant shall conscientiously consider any responses provided by the Claimants and by any other members of the public to the draft amended PPI Strategy and, within 28 days of the close of the said response period, shall:
a. Provide the Claimants with a copy of its proposed PPI Strategy;
b. Publish its proposed PPI Strategy on its website; and
c. Take all reasonable steps to arrange for the Governing Body of the Defendant to formally approve the proposed PPI Strategy at the next possible Governing Body meeting.

Commissioning Plan for 2014/15

4. The Defendant shall within 28 days of the date of this Order provide the Claimants with an amended version of its 2-year Strategic Plan 2014/16 to comply with its statutory obligations under section 14Z11 of the National Health Service Act 2006 (“the amended Commissioning Plan”) for the year 2014/15.
5. The Defendant shall within 28 days of the date of this Order publish the amended Commissioning Plan on its website, inviting responses from the Claimants and the public generally concerning the amendments to the amended Commissioning Plan, for a period of at least 28 days.
6. Upon the close of the said period of (at least) 28 days, the Defendant shall conscientiously consider any responses provided by the Claimants and by any other members of the public to the amended Commissioning Plan and, within 28 days of the close of the said response period, shall:
a. Provide the Claimants with a copy of its amended Commissioning Plan for 2014/15;
b. Publish its amended Commissioning Plan for 2014/15 on its website; and
c. Shall arrange for the Governing Body of the Defendant to approve the amendments to the amended Commissioning Plan at the next possible Governing Body meeting.

7. The Defendant shall take all reasonable steps to prepare and publish on its website a new annual Commissioning Plan before the start of the financial year 2015/16 and carry out consultation in respect of that plan in compliance with its obligations under section 14Z11 and 14Z13 of the National Health Service Act 2006.

Procurement Policy

8. The Defendant shall within 14 days of finalising the Patient and Public Involvement Strategy provide the Claimants with a copy of an amended procurement policy which explains inter alia how the Defendant proposes to meet its duties under section 14Z2 of the National Health Service Act 2006 (“the Amended Procurement Policy”).
9. The Defendant shall publish the Amended Procurement Policy on its website once that document is finalised.

Amendment of the CCG Constitution

10. Once the Defendant’s Governing Body has approved the Patient and Public Involvement Strategy, the Defendant will use all reasonable endeavours to obtain approval from the National Health Service Commissioning Board (NHS England) for its Constitution to be amended so as properly to comply with section 14Z2 of the National Health Service Act 2006.

Notes to Editors 2
The National Health Service Act 2006
The National Health Service Act 2006 (as amended by the Health and Social Care Act 2012) imposed public engagement duties on all clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).

Section 14Z2(1) of the 2006 Act says:
‘The clinical commission group must make arrangements to secure that individuals to whom the services are being made or may be provided are involved (whether by being consulted or provided with information or in other ways)
(a) in the planning of the commission arrangements by the group,
(b) in the development and consideration of proposals by the group for changes in the commissioning arrangements where the implementation of the proposals would have an impact on the manner in which the services are delivered to the individuals or the range of health services available to them, and
(c) in decisions of the group affecting the operation of the commissioning arrangements where the implementation of the decisions would (if made) have such an impact.’

The details of the types of arrangements that all CCGs have to have in place are now set out in the NHS England Guidance ‘Transforming Participation in Health and Care: The NHS belongs to us all’

Section 5.2.1 of the Bristol CCG constitution, and section 3 of their Patient and Public Involvement Strategy commits the CCG to make arrangements to secure public and patient involvement in decisions about changes to health services. Neither document included these arrangements.

Notes to Editors 3
Protect our NHS’ Position
Protect Our NHS made every attempt to reach a settlement with the CCG, including a lengthy meeting involving its QC and solicitors for both sides. The legal requirements are very clear and we believe this case should have been resolved quickly and at only a small cost to the NHS. It should be noted that our legal costs will come out of money allocated for overall management costs, not money used to pay for the care of patients.
Protect our NHS has 300 active supporters and represents more than 8,000 local people who signed petitions organised by the online campaigning group 38 Degrees to oppose the privatisation of NHS services. The campaigners come from a wide variety of backgrounds including business, medicine, the media, social work, and education. Many members take part in its voluntary activities such as running street stalls and house to house leafleting despite having full time jobs.
The Protect our NHS blog contains information on many of the private health care companies bidding for health services in Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset.
Blog: http://www.protectournhs.wordpress.com
E mail: protectournhs@gmail.com
Twitter: @NHSour

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