Lawyers focus on County Halls’ 1st April deadline for NHS takeover and ask “what’s the rush?”

Lawyers focus on County Halls’ 1st April deadline for NHS takeover and ask “what’s the rush?”

22nd February 2018

By Graham SmithThe possibility of a legal challenge to Cornwall Council’s ambition to take over the National Health Service continues to be under discussion, with the next “deadline” set as 28thMarch, when the council’s 10-member cabinet is expected to approve plans for a 1st April launch.

The council has confirmed it is in correspondence with lawyers Leigh Day, who are already engaged in one Judicial Review and have demanded that Cornwall should pause its plans pending the outcome of that trial, at Leeds High Court, on 24th April.

The law firm has suggested that Cornwall Council should voluntarily delay its proposals by a few months – or be joined with the Judicial Review, incurring significant costs.

The council’s position is understood to be that 1st April will see the launch of only a “shadow” Accountable Care System (now called Integrated Strategic Commissioning) and that there will not be, in the short term, any change to the statutory functions of NHS Kernow, the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust or the Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

But health campaigners say the “shadow” designation simply means that County Hall will be in charge of a combined NHS and council budget without risking responsibility in law.  The distinction between a “shadow” new structure and a full-blown council takeover is the legalistic point that a High Court judge would have to investigate.

Leeds High Court will hear the first Judicial Review on 24th April.  Will Cornwall Council be there too?

Officials have pencilled in a special meeting for September for a full council meeting, necessary for the constitutional changes required to take full statutory responsibility.

Leigh Day is acting for a West Cornwall man who claims the council should “cease and desist” its plans until the courts have ruled on their lawfulness.  A similar “Devolved Care System” in Manchester has been put on hold pending the outcome of two Judicial Review hearings, and a Parliamentary select committee investigation.

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