Court bid to save A&E rejected
Thursday 10th October 2013, 4:30PM BST.
A High Court judge has thrown out a local authority’s bid to challenge controversial plans to close an A&E department in the capital.
Ealing Council asked for permission to seek a judicial review on the grounds that proposals for ending emergency services at Ealing Hospital during a reorganisation of health care services in north west London were legally flawed.
Refusing permission, Mr Justice Mitting ruled that all grounds of challenge were “unarguable”.
The council attacked a decision to concentrate acute services for two million residents at five “super hospitals” – St Mary’s in Paddington, Chelsea and Westminster, West Middlesex, Hillingdon and Northwick Park.
These services are currently provided at nine hospitals on five hospital sites – including Ealing, which, under the reorganisation, will become a “local” hospital.
The reform programme called Shaping A Healthier Future was commissioned by eight primary care trusts (PCTs) – Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster.
It was approved in February this year by a Joint Committee of the PCTs (JCPCT), which also heard from representatives from the adjoining boroughs of Camden, Richmond and Wandsworth.
Ealing Council said the reforms would result in “a radical downgrading of critical services” in its area, and noted that emergency admissions in Ealing and Hounslow were higher than the national average.
The council’s legal team sought judicial review, arguing the JCPCT had proceeded with “a closed mind” and failed properly to take into account the health needs of local residents.
The JCPCT was also accused of not complying with its statutory duty to ensure that users of the services were involved in the proposals for change, and also failing to fulfil its public sector equality duty.
Rejecting all the challenges, the judge ruled none of the grounds were arguable and the needs of local people had been “specifically considered and addressed”.
There was no evidence of a closed mind, said the judge.