• Judge overturned Corby CCG decision to replace an urgent care centre with a primary care hub
  • Decision means service continuity is under threat as the commissioner has seven months to consult and procure replacement
  • Corby CCG had also lost a previous legal judgement with the incumbent provider

A High Court judge has thrown out plans by a CCG to replace a walk-in urgent care centre with an appointment only primary care hub.

Milwyn Jarman QC ruled yesterday that Corby Clinical Commissioning Group had given “plain and unequivocal” promises to formally consult on the service changes and it had failed to do so. The CCG said that it had engaged in a “major public engagement exercise”. 

His ruling followed a judicial review, brought by Lyn Buckingham, a local NHS campaigner, after hearings at the end of July. 

The High Court judgement also found the CCG had breached its duties under the NHS Act 2006 to involve patients in “the development and consideration of proposals…for changes in the commissioning arrangements”. 

The CCG now has seven months to run a new consultation and procurement of the service. A statement released by the CCG last week ahead of the judgement said that the contract of the current provider, Lakeside Plus, “cannot continue beyond the end of March”. Lakeside Plus was represented in the current proceedings by David Lock QC from Landmark Chambers.

Responding to the ruling the CCG said it was “disappointed by [the] outcome, but respects the decision made”. It said its “primary concern… [is to] ensure there is no disruptions when the urgent care contract expires [on] 31 March 2019”. It is now in talks with NHS England as “matter of urgency” how to deliver the consultation.

HSJ understands commissioners are concerned the centre may now have to close without any replacement services.

The week prior to the final judgement the CCG said it had started the procurement process for an organisation to run the same-day access hub, which was to provide GP-led care for minor injuries. It said: “the implications of not beginning procurement are serious.. we need to start the procurement process now, because it can take many months to go through all the complex stages. We have to ensure there’s no gap at the end of any contract.”

The UCC has long been a subject of controversy. The provider, Lakeside Plus, won another legal judgement last year in which Corby CCG was told it had been wrongly undercutting tariff rates to the independent provider for three years.

The CCG is continuing to pay national tariff rates for the current UCC.

Updated on 3 August to correct details of legal representation.