Stop the NHS Sell Off makes successful legal challenge to Commissioning Group’s secrecy

“It’s not possible to run the NHS like Tesco’s supply chain where everything is kept commercially confidential.”

This is the view of  David Lock, the barrister instructed by Cambridge Stop the NHS Sell Off.

Social Investigations reports that a law firm acting for campaign group Stop the NHS Sell Off in Cambridgeshire has accused Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) of acting unlawfully by failing to allow opportunities for meaningful public engagement in the tender of an £800m contract for older people’s services.

Cambridge Stop the NHS Sell Off protest - photo credit GMB (as far as I know)

Social Investigations’ report is based on a news story in the Health Service Journal.

In a letter before action sent on 10 December, Leigh Day said the CCG had been “preventing proper patient involvement” by refusing to let the public see tender documents that it had shared with bidders.

Details of the £800m contract are given in the 38 Degrees petition to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG: Stop the NHS Sell Off in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

Breach of CCG’s legal obligations to engage with public

Instructed by the Stop the NHS Sell Off group, the law firm argued that the CCG was in breach of its legal obligations to engage with the public, as set out by the 2012 Health and Social Care Act.

It gave the CCG seven days to either share the documents or put the tender on hold – or face the prospect of judicial review proceedings being initiated.

HSJ understands the CCG has not conceded that it acted unlawfully. However it has agreed to publish the documents in question.

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG website, accessed 21 Jan 2014, included this webpage:  Outline proposals for improving older people’s healthcare submitted. This webpage doesn’t contain or link to the tender documents in question. But it does say that the following documents will be posted on the Older People’s Programme page on the CCG’s website later in January:

  • CCG Pre-Qualification Questionnaire and Memorandum of Information
  • CCG Outline Solution stage Prospectus
  • Draft Outcomes Framework with commentary.

David Lock QC, who was instructed by the group,  told HSJ the case showed that CCGs face conflict between commercial confidentiality and public engagement.

He said:

“This tension must be resolved in favour of openness because those are clear legal obligations which have been imposed on the CCG by Parliament.

“It is not possible to run the NHS like Tesco’s supply chain where everything is kept commercially confidential.”

More info here on the Protect our NHS website.

Successful legal challenges to NHS privatisation and fragmentation

Leigh Day is the law firm that took Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt to court, for acting unlawfully by trying to force the closure of services at South Lewisham Hospital in order to redirect the Hospital’s funding to a nearby NHS Foundation Trust that had become bankrupt due to massive Private Finance Initiative Repayments.

Leigh Day has also successfully taken on various other cases against NHS privatisation, including one where a pensioner took legal action that stopped Gloucestershire Primary Care Trust from giving the contract for community services to a non-NHS body, a “social enterprise organisation” it had set up, called Gloucestershire Care Services (GCS).

The Social Investigations Facebook page is here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.