Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group (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”.
A furious Steve Timmins of Bristol 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.”
“This court order serves notice on every other CCG to check that they are acting lawfully by having proper arrangements in place to involve their local patients in all aspects of decision making. Some CCGs plainly have such arrangements in place, but we are confident that others may not have understood the full extent of their responsibilities to involve the public and patients in decision making and must learn from Bristol CCG’s mistakes.”
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.
Steve Timmins of Bristol Protect Our NHS 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?”