High Court clarifies duty to consult with the public

In the latest of a series of challenges to NHS reorganisation in Wales by Doughty Street barristers, the Administrative Court (Hickinbottom J.) has, on 4th December 2014 ,  rejected a challenge to the closure of the in-patient facility at Cardigan Hospital, Ceredigion.  The Hywel DdA University Health Board had taken the extremely controversial decision to close the facility without conducting any consultation with the public.

 

The decision to close was hotly disputed and a petition signed by over 11,000 local residents was submitted to the Welsh Assembly in January 2014.  Signatories and supporters included local community groups and stakeholders, including the Hospital League of Friends, local GP’s, the Community Health Council , other local government bodies and Ceredigion County Council who passed a motion of “no confidence” in the Health Board following the closure. 

 

Despite the challenge failing on the facts, the case is legally significant as it has established that the Defendant Health Board’s statutory obligation to consult with a Community Health Council regarding substantial services changes, did not oust its obligations to consult the public generally derived from section 183 of the National Health Service Act (Wales) Act 2006, as had been argued by the Defendant.  Hickinbottom J.  concluded, however, that the closure of the in-patient beds did not amount to a substantial service change, and, further, that there were no other reasons to require the Defendant to consult.

 

Nicholas Bowen QC and David Lemer represented the Claimant.  

 

To view the judgment please see here

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