999 Call for the NHS launches judicial review defending comprehensive healthcare for all

Thanks to hundreds of generous people, the funding target was reached just a week after national campaign group ‘999 Call for the NHS’ and internationally recognised public law firm Leigh Day launched a crowdfund to support their claim for a judicial review to stop a new form of NHS contract that would threaten patient safety standards and limit the range of available treatments.

999 Call for the NHS crowdfunded the case through CrowdJustice and appealed for £9,682. The total amount, when added to existing funds donated by supporters of the campaign earlier in the year, will be enough to cover the £25,000 costs of the judicial review.

Nearly 400 people responded to the appeal to support this judicial review with whatever amount they were able to afford. 999 Call for the NHS said,

“It is in everyone’s interest. We all need and use the NHS at some point, and we need to make sure it continues to provide comprehensive healthcare for all.”

The group, which campaigns nationally and locally to protect high quality NHS comprehensive healthcare from adverse cuts and changes, say the NHS is under threat from national commissioners’ introduction of a model contract for use by new local NHS and Social Care organisations, known as Accountable Care Organisations (ACO) or Accountable Care Systems.

ACOs are based on a system developed in the USA to deliver “managed care” for insurance companies. The campaign group believe that this new contract is unlawful under current NHS legislation.

This is because the new ACO contract does not link payment to the number of patients treated and/or the complexity of the medical treatment provided, as required by the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, but is based on a fixed budget for an area’s population.

But the judicial review is about far more than a technical contract issue.
999 Call for the NHS, a group made up of members of the public with a passion to protect the NHS, is deeply concerned that the contract, if implemented, would threaten patient safety and force hospitals and doctors to restrict treatment, making decisions based on money not clinical judgement.

This is because a fixed capitated budget would fail to ensure that there would be enough money to meet the cost of delivering NHS services to the required quality standard.

Colin Hutchinson, a recently retired Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust consultant, said,

“The NHS Constitution sets out the seven principles that establish the rights of patients in the NHS.

Principle 1 is that the NHS provides a comprehensive service available to all, and Principle 2 is that access to the NHS is based on clinical need.

Accountable Care Systems will drive a coach and horses through the Constitution, because access to services that we currently enjoy will depend on the fixed amount of money allocated to each system by the Treasury, not on the need of the patient. The only way that these new organisations will be able to survive is by denying people access to treatment, based on criteria that the System will determine.

We are already seeing patients in Hertfordshire being denied hip and knee replacements indefinitely if they smoke or are overweight and patients losing sight from cataract being denied surgery, when this is the commonest operation performed throughout the world. The range of treatment provided by the NHS is set to shrink enormously if Accountable Care Systems are allowed to become established.

The most disgraceful aspect of this is that the NHS Constitution is being destroyed without any discussion in Parliament and with no legal authority.”

About 999 Call for the NHS

In 2014, with support from the public, local press and media, 999 Call for the NHS marched 300 miles from Jarrow to London to save the NHS. Over 20,000 people gathered in Trafalgar Square to support this urgent call. The group has carried on campaigning ever since.

Joanne Land, one of the Darlo Mums who marched the whole 300 miles, said

“Now this new threat to our NHS means that we must march on the law courts.
This Judicial Review may be one of few chances to save the NHS as the source of good quality comprehensive healthcare that puts the patient first.”

Thanks to all who donated to make this claim for Judicial Review possible.

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