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Patient from practice threatened with closure to take legal action against Jeremy Hunt

A patient has launched a High Court legal bid against the health secretary and NHS England claiming they breached their duties by destabilising his practice’s funding, which has led to them potentially closing.

The patient, 35-year-old Danny Currie, who has relied on the Jubilee Street Practice for his complex medical needs for over 30 years, has claimed the defendants acted unlawfully by neglecting their duties under the Health and Social Care Act to ‘reduc[e] inequality between patients with respect to their ability to access health services’.

It comes as GP campaigners representing the practice and 21 other east London practices at risk of closure due to MPIG, PMS and contractual funding swings have been invited to 10 Downing Street next week to hand over a 16,000-strong petition to Prime Minister David Cameron calling on him to step in and stop closures.

The Jubilee Street Practice has also lent its support to Pulse’s Stop Practice Closures campaign.

The legal action was taken after the practice, which stands to lose over £200,000 a year in MPIG funding alone, wrote to patients this week to explain that NHS England has not yet delivered on promises to present a funding solution for the practice in light of it facing losses worth £900,000.

The deadline had been 21 July and the letter stated that if no solution is presented, by October it will have to give NHS England notice of the intent to close the practice by the end of April 2015. It also said that it would consider legal action.

In a statement, Mr Currie’s law firm, Leigh Day, said: ‘[We] claim that in respect of its duties relating to health inequality, which require it to have regard to reducing inequality between patients with respect to their ability to access health services, NHS England are in breach of the National Health Service Act 2006 as amended by the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

Human rights solicitor Richard Stein, who is representing Mr Currie, said: ‘The potential closure of this highly regarded practice is clearly a matter which has an impact upon the manner in which services are delivered to patients, and the range of health services available to them.’

‘They should therefore have been consulted before these cuts to the surgery’s funding were made.’

‘This is clearly an attack on inner city health provision and we agree with NHS England that the potential closure of this practice could be the first of many more. The Government must do more to address the consequences of its decisions and funds need to be spent to reduce not increase the disparity in the services provided.’

Jubilee Street Practice manager Virginia Patania is one of a small group of campaigners invited to 10 Downing Street next Wednesday, where they will hand over the signatures to its ‘Save Our Surgeries’ campaign, accompanied by the Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow Rushanara Ali.

Speaking to Pulse, Ms Patania said: ‘There is a group of people going in, I am one of four, plus Rushanara Ali, that are handing in 16,000 signatures to Downing Streets of people who are asking for these surgeries not to be closed and to be saved. We will also have some speeches in front of No 10 about the closure of GP practices not just in Tower Hamlets but from a wider perspective.’

Commenting on the reach the campaign has now achieved, she added: ‘It doesn’t get much bigger than [visiting 10 Downing Street].’

She also said the practice supported the Stop Practice Closures campaign: ‘We are really happy about Pulse’s campaign.’

The Jubilee Street Practice’s letter to patients, sent on Tuesday this week, read: ‘Although we hope it does not come to this, legal proceedings may be necessary in order to solve the problem. Please do keep up the support, follow our new campaign initiatives and our progress via the website and media, sign our petition and write to your MP. There is still everything to fight for.’

More to follow