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NHS faces legal challenge over redevelopment of hospital services

Plans to redevelop hospital services in West Hertfordshire could be scrutinised by the courts, after a claim was served for a judicial review.

Earlier this year the Herts Valleys CCG and the West Hertfordshire Hospitals Trust formally backed plans to bid for £350million of NHS funding. As part of that plan, all three hospitals – Watford General, St Albans City and Hemel Hempstead – would be retained and the bulk of the investment would be focused on Watford General.

But that went against the preferences of a number of campaign groups, who had pushed for the CCG to bid for a new hospital.

Now the Herts Valleys CCG has been served with a claim for judicial review, on behalf of the New Hospital Campaign. Judicial review is a legal process where a person can challenge the lawfulness of a public body’s decision, action or inaction. It focuses on the way a decision was made and the procedures followed. The challenge will focus on whether or not the CCG made the decisions “without holding the required public consultation”.

Edie Glatter, from the New Hospital Campaign, said: “We did not take this action lightly and have done so very reluctantly. The CCG, working with the West Herts Hospitals Trust, gave us little alternative after they threw out, with almost no backup information, the option of a new hospital on a clear, central site accessible to everyone.” She continued: “We have always said that unless the new hospital option is fully and fairly considered, the decision-making process can have no credibility: this has not happened and the consultation must include that option,” she said.

Campaigners point to their own survey, over the summer, where 96 per cent of 1500 respondents said the health authorities were not doing enough to involve the public in these decisions. They say there is still plenty of opportunity for consultation before the government makes a funding decision.

A £20,000 fundraising campaign has been launched to fund the legal action. Commenting on the situation, a spokesperson for Herts Valleys CCG said: “We are aware of a judicial review in relation to the plans for hospital redevelopment in west Hertfordshire. We are seeking legal advice and cannot comment further at this stage. We have been served with a claim for a judicial review in relation to West Herts Hospitals Trust’s plans for hospital redevelopment – plans which the CCG approved at a board meeting in public in July. Herts Valleys CCG is reviewing the claim with our legal advisers and will be lodging a response with the court shortly.”

There had been plans for a meeting at the county council to scrutinise the engagement during the decision-making process on Friday (September 13). This meeting has been postponed. A council spokesperson said it would expect to reschedule the scrutiny meeting in December or January.


Article originally appeared on Watford Observer

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