The BMA has said it is ‘hugely disappointed’ after the High Court dismissed a judicial review of government plans to bring local health and social care services under one contract.
The court case, brought by campaign group JR4NHS, was aimed at challenging the introduction of new bodies designed to integrate services, known as accountable care organisations.
Concerns have been raised by the group that ACOs could be partly or wholly run by private firms.
Meanwhile, Pulse has previously reported that GPs taking part in one type of ACO – under a multispecialty community provider contract – could be forced to give up their patients if they chose to return to their previous contract after more than two years.
But yesterday the High Court ruled against a judicial review of ACOs.
Commenting on the decision, the BMA, which backed the campaigners’ calls for the review, said it was ‘hugely disappointed’.
A BMA spokesman said the association believed the ACO plans ‘as they stand, are absolutely not in the best interests of patients or clinical and support staff’.
‘ACOs have the potential to have a far-reaching negative impact on patients, doctors and the wider NHS workforce because they lack clarity and accountability in their development, they present a risk of privatisation of NHS services, and the BMA is far from convinced that the Government will provide the level of NHS funding and investment required for them to work,’ added the spokesman.
Campaign group JR4NHS launched its bid for review last year arguing the plans go against current legislation, which defines CCGs as the organisations that plan and buy care in the NHS.
The BMA supported the court case, providing a witness statement that argued the Government’s proposals risked putting health budgets in the hands of private companies.
The spokesman added: ‘We note that the secretary of state for health and social care previously committed to holding a consultation and we hope that now gets underway without further delay.
‘The BMA believes there is a need for genuine transparency and engagement in the consultation so that legitimate concerns about the creation of accountable care organisations can be heard and taken into consideration.’