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London borough to pursue judicial review of NHS hospitals shake-up

The London Borough of Ealing is to seek a judicial review of the NHS’s decision to close four casualty departments and downgrade other local hospital services in the area.

The council claimed that there had been:

  • A failure to take into account clinical evidence;
  • Insufficient public and patient engagement;
  • Inadequate public consultation; and
  • A failure to consider the impact that stopping services would have on Ealing residents.

Its legal team is expected to lodge papers with the court in the next two weeks.

Ealing has already referred the plans to the Government. It believes that the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, will order an independent review of the NHS’s proposals.

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Claiming that the plans had attracted widespread opposition since they were unveiled in the summer of 2012, Ealing said: “The application for legal action is being taken by the council because it feels the plans are not in the best interests of local people….

“[The plans] would mean A&E services closing and other services being downgraded at Ealing, Central Middlesex, Charing Cross and Hammersmith hospitals. This would leave three London boroughs, which have a total population the size of Leeds, without a major hospital.”

The council, which said all parties were against the plans, added: “Councillors are angry that the NHS bosses have approved the plans to downgrade hospital services, and claim that the changes would be made at a scale and speed never tested before and that any success would be reliant on improvements in primary care that have not yet been achieved. There is also no robust evidence that the plans are safe or will deliver equal treatment to all Londoners in the region.”

Ealing’s Leader, Cllr Julian Bell said: "We are facing a David versus Goliath struggle to protect our local hospitals but will use every option open to us, including going to court, to fight to keep these vital services for our residents.

“Although times are tough and the council is facing increasing pressure on its finances, it is right we stand up and fight to protect local hospital services. If this means taking this battle to the courts, so be it.”

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