2013 06 Health Care

Monday 1 July 2013

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R (on the Jeremiah) v Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman (Admin) 11 April 2013 (Collins J) Extempore judgment: The claimant claimed judicial review of a decision by the defendant not to continue an investigation following complaints made against a NHS trust. The claimant was the carer of an individual who suffered from a mental illness. The concern was that between 2003 and 2004 care given to the patient by the trust was defective. A complaint was considered by the defendant but the claimant wrote to the defendant indicating why he did not agree with the defendant’s conclusions. The defendant view was that the claimant was withdrawing from the complaints process and ended the matter. This was not the claimant’s intention and he applied to have the defendant’s investigation continued. The NHS opposed this application in that it was confident that the quality of care had been high, many of the staff involved in the care no longer worked there and the NHS care trust had been well received by the care commissioners. The defendant agreed with the NHS trust and refused the claimant’s application. On refusing the application the court held the defendant had not acted irrationally in refusing to continue an investigation following complaints made against an NHS trust. The hurdle to jump show that discretion exercised by the defendant was irrational was a very high one, (R. v Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration Ex p. Dyer [1994] 1 W.L.R. 621). Section 3(2) of the Health Service Commissioners Act 1993 made it clear that then defendant was to act in accordance with its own discretion, and it was impossible to say in the instant case that it was outside the defendant’s proper discretion to make the decision it did. (a free of the judgment is not yet available)

R (on the application of Rosalind Copson) v Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust & NHS Dorset (Interested Party) [2013] EWHC 732 (Admin) (Judge Keyser QC sitting as a deputy High Court judge):The claimant applied for judicial review of a decision of the defendant to implement a project for the reconfiguration of its mental health services. The project, which was a collaboration between the defendant and the interested party, involved the closure of an in-patient facility used by the claimant. The claimant submitted that the defendant had (a) failed to carry out an adequate consultation with its service users in that it had not consulted when the proposals were at a formative stage, had not approached the consultation with an open mind, and had not provided sufficient information to enable the consultees to engage meaningfully with the proposals and (b) failed to comply with its duty under the section 149 Equality Act 2010 to have due regard to the need to advance equality of opportunity. On dismissing the claim the court held that the defendant had adequately engaged service users with its proposals to reconfigure its mental health services. Further the public sector equality duty was not a back door by which challenges to the merits of decisions could be made as unlawfulness would exist only if there had been a failure to comply with the duty as a matter of substance rather than of form. (click here for the judgment).

R (on the application of Save Our Surgery Ltd) v Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts and Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (Interested Party) [2013] EWHC 1011 (Admin) (Davies J): In giving judgment for the claimant on the court finding that the defendant had conducted a consultation process into a proposed reduction in paediatric cardiac surgery centres unfairly quashing the resulting decision but declined to dictate the future steps should be taken as it had neither the knowledge nor evidence to do so. (click here for the judgment).

R v (1) Karen Cosford (2) Carolyn Falloon and (3) Jacqueline Flynn [2013] EWCA Crim 466 (Leveson LJ, Mitting LJ, Males J): On dismissing an appeal brought on a point of law by the appellants against their convictions for misconduct in public office the court held that nurses working within a prison were responsible not only to the prisoners, but also to the public for, as it was within their power to do so, the proper, safe and secure running of the prison. Thus, the nurses held public office, and did so even if they were employed by a private company, and could be found guilty of misconduct in public office. (click here for the judgment).

International Stem Cell Corp v Controller General of Patents [2013] EWHC 807 (Ch) (Henry Carr QC sitting as a deputy High Court Judge): A reference from the chancery division was made to the European Court of Justice for an interlocutory ruling as to whether an unfertilised human ova whose division and further development had been stimulated by parthenogenesis (namely without fertilisation by sperm), and thus incapable of developing into human beings, were human embryos within the meaning of EU Directive 98/44 article 6(2)(c) and therefore excluded from being patented (click here for the judgment).

Aintree University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust v (1) David James (by his litigation friend the Official Solicitor) [2013] EWCA Civ 65 (Laws LJ, Arden LJ, Sir Alan Ward): The court held that it was in a patient's best interests to have life-sustaining treatment withheld where the treatment would be futile and extremely burdensome to endure, and he would never recover enough from multiple organ failure to leave hospital. (click here for the judgment).

R (on the application of Pharmacy Care Plus Ltd) v Family Health Services Appeals Unit [2013] EWHC 824 (Admin) (Judge Stephen Davies): The court held that the Defendant unit of the NHS had made an error of fact resulting in unfairness in deciding that what were demonstrably linked pharmaceutical companies were two separate companies and allowing both to be on the pharmaceutical list maintained by a primary care trust. (click here for the judgment).

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