After the dust settles on Michael Lloyd versus NHS Gloucestershire, will campaigners find they have actually won a pyrrhic victory in their bid to keep the county’s community services in the NHS?
Mr Lloyd, who was supported by campaign group Stroud Against the Cuts, argued the primary care trust had not given adequate consideration to an “NHS option” before opting to transfer the services to a community interest company.
It feels ironic that the case campaigners made to the High Court to keep community services within the NHS was built around the finer details of procurement law, but they successfully kept the option alive, on paper at least.
Under an out of court settlement the primary care trust agreed to reconsider its decision and explore an NHS option. Mr Lloyd’s legal team argued this would not necessarily require a full tender.
However, a memo to staff, seen by HSJ, makes clear a full procurement exercise will now begin. But will there be any willing NHS providers?
Both Gloucestershire Hospitals Foundation Trust and mental health provider 2gether Foundation Trust showed some interest in taking on the services at the beginning of the Transforming Community Services process. However, HSJ understands this was not encouraged by the PCT at the time.
At this stage neither trust is ruling out a future bid for the services. Both are waiting for more information from the PCT on what happens next. Even if they do decide to pursue it there are many practical and political obstacles to navigate before it could become a reality.
It is far from a guarantee that staff will find themselves in the NHS in 18 months’ time, once the process has been completed.