A judicial review challenge against a clinical commissioning group (CCG) has been withdrawn after the CCG agreed to amend its patient and public involvement strategy and other documents.
The claimants – members of campaign group Protect our NHS – argued that Bristol CCG had failed to involve patients in its decisions about the procurement of £500m of health care services.
The CCG has now agreed, amongst other things, in a settlement order to:
- Provide the claimants with a copy of a proposed amended patient and public involvement strategy and publish the document on its website inviting responses;
- Provide the claimants with an amended version of its two-year strategic plan 2014/16 to comply with its statutory obligations under section 14Z11 of the National Health Service Act 2006 and publish the document on its website inviting responses;
- 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;
- Provide the claimants within 14 days of finalising the patient and public involvement strategy with a copy of an amended procurement policy explaining how the CCG proposes to meet its duties under s. 14Z2 of the 2006 Act, and publish the same on its website; and
- Once the strategy is approved by its board, use all reasonable endeavours to obtain approval from NHS England for its constitution to be amended.
Bristol CCG, which has agreed to pay 80% of the claimants’ costs, said: “The matter has not been decided by a court and no finding of unlawful behaviour by the CCG has been made.”
Dr Martin Jones, chair of Bristol Clinical Commissions Group said: “We are pleased to have achieved this outcome, it is however, disappointing that an expensive legal route has been pursued over a more constructive dialogue, which was what we encouraged as a CCG.”
A war of words subsequently emerged after the CCG claimed that the legal challenge had been “dropped”. The claimants’ lawyers, Leigh Day, said they would seek a retraction.
Rosa Curling, a solicitor at the law firm, said: “The judicial review proceedings we took were to expose the fact that the CCG had breached its legal duties to involve patients in its decision making.
“They initially denied that they had acted unlawfully but, once proceedings were issued, Bristol CCG backed down, and agreed to revise a series of its policies and its core constitution to bring them into line with the law.”
The CCG published on its website a summary of the legal position written by its lawyers, Bevan Brittan.