Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group has offered to make a series of “substantial” changes to its policy on patient and public engagement as part of a proposed out of court settlement.
The proposal is now being considered by lawyers acting for Protect Our NHS, a campaign group challenging the legality of the CCG’s current policy in a judicial review.
Protect Our NHS alleged that Bristol’s procurement policy breaches the Health Act 2012 by failing to require public involvement in its decision making process. Bristol denies the allegation.
The judicial review has been put on hold until next week to allow negotiations between the campaigners and the CCG to proceed, according to court documents seen by HSJ.
“It appears that constructive efforts are being made to reach accommodation in light of the substantial concessions made by the defendant,” the court order made last month by Mr Justice Stuart-Smith said.
“These efforts should be allowed to continue, but should not delay the proceedings more than necessary.”
Lawyers acting for the campaigners claim the case has implications for other CCGs.
Rosa Curling, a solicitor for specialist law firm Leigh Day, said the case should cause all CCGs “to examine their public and patient involvement strategies to see whether they comply with the legal obligations under the 2012 act”.
She said: “Every CCG needs, by law, to have published arrangements which show how patients are involved in decision making.”
In a statement, Bristol CCG told HSJ it was “confident and proud” of its arrangements to involve patients and the public.
It said: “Throughout this legal process Bristol CCG has sought to discuss openly with Protect Our NHS all the points they have raised, with the aim of agreeing a way forward outside of the courts.
“Protect Our NHS has however decided to continue to pursue the legal challenge, which will cost a considerable amount of money that the CCG believes would be better spent on healthcare for Bristol people.
“We have made a number of proposals to address their concerns and it will be for Protect Our NHS to decide whether they are satisfied with these offers or whether they wish to continue to pursue the legal proceedings against us.”