STRUCTURE: Lawyers for NHS Gloucestershire will be in the high court next month to defend the primary care trust in a judicial review of the transfer of its provider arm.

The transfer of community services to the community interest company Gloucester Care Services has been on hold since local resident and service user Michael Lloyd launched the legal challenge in September.

Mr Lloyd is supported by campaign group Stroud Against The Cuts and a number of local councillors including the mayor. They claim the PCT did not consult adequately on the proposals or give proper consideration to alternatives that would have seen the services remain within the NHS.

Campaign chair James Beecher said: “This action has been taken, and is being supported by Stroud Against The Cuts, because Mr Lloyd believes social enterprise companies are not an alternative to the break-up and privatisation of the NHS. Social enterprises act as stepping stones to privatisation, allowing the private sector to compete for contracts after only a few years.  

“When a social enterprise competes with big business, it is like local corner shops up against Tesco. We believe that setting up a social enterprise is damaging to patients and staff who risk the loss of NHS pay, conditions and pensions.”

The hearing has been set for 8 February.

Community services from six other PCT provider arms in the south west transferred to social enterprises last year under the transforming community services programme. Solicitors Leigh Day and Co acting for the campaigners believe the outcome of the judicial review could have implications for other arrangements.