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Healthcare campaign group head to the Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal will hear the appeal against the dismissal of a judicial review challenge brought by 999 Call for the NHS on Tuesday 20th and Wednesday 21st November 2018.

Posted on 19 November 2018

The campaign group is appealing the government's decision to create Accountable Care Organisations (ACOs) - now called Integrated Care Providers - after a High Court judgment dismissed their judicial review challenge in May 2018.
In August 2017 the government announced the ACO proposals. These proposals include the introduction of a lump-sum payment for health services, regardless of service provided and number of users. The campaign group argues such proposals are unlawful as the government does not have the powers to make such fundamental changes under its existing legislative framework. Campaign group 999 Call for the NHS argued in their judicial review claim that the new contracts for ACOs could threaten patient safety by forcing care providers to potentially restrict access to treatment.
The group are concerned that the proposed changes will mean medical professionals will be forced to make decisions around the care a patient receives on the basis of the cost of a treatment rather than medical need of a treatment. In a broader sense, the campaign group also believe the core principle of the NHS of providing comprehensive care to all is being threatened by the introduction of ACOs/ICPs.

Lady Justice Arden granted permission for the group to appeal on all grounds in August 2018, remarking that: “A key question of statutory interpretation on this appeal…is whether the judge was right to hold that section 115 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 does not require ‘visible prices fixed in advance for each individual treatment episode.’ (judgment, [95]). This is clearly an arguable question of law…Therefore I give permission to appeal on all grounds…”
Steve Carne, spokesperson for 999 Call for the NHS, said:

“We are determined in our fight to reverse the government’s decision to implement ACOs, which we feel are contrary to the core principle of the NHS to provide care to all. We hope that the Court of Appeal with agree with our arguments, overturn the original judgment of the High Court and find the government policy unlawful.”
Rowan Smith, solicitor at Leigh Day, added:

“Our clients are concerned that the introduction of ACOs amounts to an under-the-radar, top down reorganisation of the NHS. Such fundamental changes in the way health services are commissioned require primary legislation. It is our clients’ belief that the government should go back to Parliament and seek a democratic mandate for such a change. The group sees the government’s failure to bring forward legislation as leaving it with no other option but to try the legal equivalent of fitting a round peg in a square hole. This is not acceptable to the campaigners we represent, and we consider it to be clearly unlawful. We very much hope the Court of Appeal will ensure the government is prevented from continuing down this path.”