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Council to appeal High Court ruling that stroke unit reconfiguration was lawful

Medway Council has lodged an appeal against a High Court decision which found that a joint committee of clinical commissioning groups had acted lawfully when dealing with health inequalities when they decided the locations of three hyper acute stroke units (HASUs) in Kent.

The joint committee decided in December 2019, following a review of stroke services and a public consultation, to establish the three HASUs at Darent Valley Hospital, Maidstone Hospital and William Harvey Hospital.

Under the plans the stroke unit at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in Thanet will not become a HASU and so will close.

The joint committee’s decision was upheld by the High Court on 21 February this year.

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In A & Anor, R (On the Application Of) v South Kent Coastal CCG & Ors [2020] EWHC 372 Mrs Justice Farbey gave permission for two out of the eight grounds of challenge advanced by the claimants.

These were that the defendant CCGs misunderstood or failed to discharge the health inequality duty under section 14T of the National Health Service Act 2006 (ground 1) and the consultation was unlawful (ground 5).

However, Mrs Justice Farbey went on to dismiss the claim.

The council was an interested party in the case, giving it a full right of appeal.

The Leader of Medway Council, Cllr Alan Jarrett, said: “We believe that the Joint CCG committee and the High Court failed to consider inequality appropriately when making their decision. Medway has a number of deprived areas and these communities tend to have higher stroke admission rates which is why we need to have excellent medical facilities here.

“Medway Council is currently putting in place comprehensive and ambitious plans to transform the area and long-term investment is needed to address the causes of health inequality here in Medway.”

Cllr Jarrett added: “We have voiced our concerns about the impact of the location of the stroke units numerous times and we will continue to do so until our voice is heard.

“We are committed to ensuring our residents have access to high quality health services.” 

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