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Patient halts new community services contract

A PCT has scrapped plans to contract community services out to a social enterprise after a patient´s campaign against the move reached the High Court.

NHS Gloucestershire said it had agreed terms to settle the judicial review brought by pensioner Michael Lloyd after he objected to a £450 million contract going to Gloucestershire Care Services – a not-for-profit social enterprise company.

The company was to have taken over running district nursing, community hospitals, out of hours services and telehealth among other services worth around £80 million a year last October but the sign-off was halted pending legal proceedings.

Mr Lloyd’s lawyers argued that the PCT had acted unlawfully in deciding to award the contract last year and that the proposed transfer would be highly detrimental to the NHS services in Gloucestershire.

Mr Lloyd, a care home resident, claimed the PCT’s own evidence showed that the transfer would create a VAT liability for Gloucestershire Care Services, estimated at over £1 million. ‘That money will be lost to patients’ services. It will have to be paid out of the fixed budget provided by the PCT for health services and will therefore result in fewer services being provided to patients.’

In a joint statement, NHS Gloucestershire and Mr Lloyd said they had agreed to settle out of court last month.

‘The PCT has agreed not to implement its decision to enter into a contract with Gloucestershire Care Services at this time,’ said the statement.

‘The PCT has agreed that it will start a new process to explore the best option for providing community services in Gloucestershire.’

The statement said that members of the public and NHS staff would be invited to engage with future plans for the provision of NHS services in the county and specifically stated that a community interest company would be one of the models looked at.

The legal battle is reported to have cost the NHS £137,000.