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Royal Brompton Hospital Succeeds in Quashing Cardiac Surgery Consultation


Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust v Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts and Another [2011] EWHC 2986 (Admin)

The High Court (Owen J) has today quashed a national consultation process relating to the provision of paediatric congenital cardiac services (PCCS) in England. The consultation process formed part of a so-called "Safe and Sustainable" Review and was undertaken by a Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT). The Review was designed to reduce the number of PCCS centres in England with a view to improving the quality of services in the remaining centres.

The challenge was brought by the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, which, despite having been ranked joint fourth of the eleven current PCCS centres, did not feature in any of the four options in the Consultation Document issued by the JCPCT earlier this year.

The Royal Brompton Hospital was not included among the recommended options because each of those options provided for two and not three centres in London and because, in a separate scoring exercise that was applied to the three current London PCCS centres, the Royal Brompton was ranked behind the two other London centres: Great Ormond Street Hospital and the Evelina Children's Hospital.

The Court held that this process breached the Royal Brompton's legitimate expectation as to the use to which information it had provided to the Review would be put. The Court also considered that something had gone "clearly and radically wrong" with the assessment process, to the detriment of the Royal Brompton, stating that the consultation process was "unfair to [the Royal Brompton], the unfairness being of such a magnitude as to lead to the conclusion that the process went radically wrong."

The judgment is here.

Alan Maclean QC and David Scannell acted for the Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, instructed by Hempsons.

Alan Maclean QC and Richard Eschwege acted for the Trust at an earlier, contested, permission hearing.