The High Court has found that NHS England ‘acted unlawfully’ by failing to consult patients on primary care commissioning decisions, after a patient launched a legal bid against the body following the announcement that his practice would lose its MPIG funding.
A ruling by Mr Justice Poppelwell found that NHS England’s ‘failure to make arrangements for the involvement of patients in primary care commissioning decisions’ contravened the National Health Service Act 2006.
The ruling came after Dannie Currie, 35, who is a patient at Jubilee Street Practice in East London, launched the case against NHS England claiming it had ‘breached their duties by destabilising his practice’s funding’.
However, the court threw out a request for a Judicial Review, stating that NHS England was ‘actively considering how it should comply with the duty’.
NHS England had announced that Jubilee Street Practice would lose over £200,000 of MPIG funding and was at risk of potentially closing as a result – however, the local area team later declared that it was going to delay the withdrawal of MPIG for two years for the worst hit practices, following a campaign by surgeries in east London.
However, Mr Justice Poppelwell ruled: ‘It is declared that the Defendant acted unlawfully by reason of its failure to make arrangements for the involvement of patients in primary care commissioning decisions as required by s.13Q of the National Health Service Act 2006’.
His ruling added, however: ‘The defendant is actively considering how it should comply with the duty, and there will be a range of different ways of doing so. The claimant has not identified any particular steps or timetable which the court should impose.’
Jubilee Street Practice previously lent its support to Pulse’s Stop Practice Closures campaign, which raises awareness of the growing crisis in general practice and to help struggling practices fight for better support.
Meanwhile, a Pulse survey recently revealed that one in 20 GPs is considering closing their practice within six months, in the latest indication of the drastic action the profession is considering to survive.
NHS England were unable to provide comment in time for publication.