A Newcastle University academic is among those bringing a judicial review challenging health policy at the High Court.
Those bringing the action include Allyson Pollock, public health doctor and Professor of Public Health at Newcastle University, founding member of Keep Our NHS Public, former chair of the NHS Consultants’ Association, and co-author of the NHS Reinstatement Bill.
The group of four, who were supported by Professor Stephen Hawking before his death, are fighting the creation of Accountable Care Organisations (ACOs) which are to act as partnership bodies incorporating hospitals, community services and councils.
The campaigners warn it risks privatisation but this is denied by Government ministers.
The campaigners say that, as envisaged in the policy, ACOs would need to take on most of the functions of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and it would be ACOs, not the CCGs, which would be responsible for making most of the decisions about providing health and care services. However, ACOs could be wholly or partly private organisations.
Professor Pollock said: "At the heart of our concerns is that, as envisaged in the policy, ACOs would need to take on most of the functions of Clinical Commissioning Groups . It would be ACOs that would be responsible for making most of the decisions about providing health and care services but they could be wholly or partly private organisations.
"Unless the changes are blocked we could end up with for-profit health organisations making behind the scenes decisions on long term NHS provision.
"We are arguing that the law which says clinical commissioning groups must make those decisions is being subverted and that in planning and supporting ACOs, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and NHS England have fallen below public law standards of openness and transparency."
The judicial review was supported by more than 9,000 people who contributed to the crowd funding of over £280,000.
The other claimants are Dr Colin Hutchinson,current Chair of Doctors for the NHS, Professor Sue Richards, a Director of the National School of Government and Professor of Public Management at Birmingham University, and co-chair of Keep Our NHS Public; and Dr Graham Winyard CBE, former Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Medical Director of the NHS in England where he led the development of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE).
The hearing is being held at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on 23rd and 24th May 2018.
published on: 25 May 2018