Judicial Review 23/24 May challenging legality of introduction of ACOs

From left: Graham Winyard, Allyson Pollock, Colin Hutchinson, Sue Richards
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Keep Our NHS Public has supported JR4NHS from the word go and our members are participants in the legal challenge.

KONP sees this judicial  review taken by the JR4NHS team as an important legal milestone for campaigners in our efforts to prevent the NHS being broken up into autonomous business units, with 10-15 year contracts worth tens of £billions and open to tender to be run by private – or public/private – consortia or ‘special purpose vehicles’ managing the accountable care organisations (ACOs). These will not be accountable to local populations nor to Parliament, but they will be motivated by accountancy and managed by financiers. And in sharp contrast to ‘care organisation’ in the title, the delivery of safe, effective and accessible health care will be very much secondary.

We hope the outcome of the JR will be successful and will conclude that both Jeremy Hunt and NHS England have been working outside the current legal framework and have attempted to bypass the parliamentary scrutiny that these dangerous, systemic changes to the NHS demand.

What follows below is the press release of the JR4NHS legal team in the week of the much-awaited judicial review hearing. We will be there outside the Royal Courts of Justice on Wednesday and Thursday 23/24 May from 9am, and attending the court hearing.

JR4NHS press release, 16 May 2018: ‘What we have achieved and what we hope for’

The judicial review of government plans for a large scale and long-term handover of NHS responsibilities from local commissioners to contracted “Accountable Care Organisations” (ACOs) is scheduled at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on 23rd and 24th May 2018 [1].

The five claimants are now four [2], following the death of Professor Stephen Hawking in March, but we continue to be inspired by how he continued to fight for the NHS right up to the end of his life.

Here is what he helped to achieve:

When the case started in December 2017, NHS England was planning to introduce the first ACOs by April 2018.  The Government was planning to rubber stamp swathes of regulations so that ACOs could operate.

Following massive public support for judicial review of their plans [3], NHS England promised a full national consultation on the plans.  And the Government said it will not make the regulations until after the consultation.  That satisfied 2 of our 4 grounds for judicial review – our first victory.

But, at worst, ACOs and the regulations have only been delayed by one year. The policy to introduce ACOs is still very much in place.

At the heart of our concerns is that, as envisaged in the policy, ACOs would need to take on most of the functions of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).  It would be ACOs, not the CCGs, that would be responsible for making most of the decisions about providing health and care services.

But ACOs could be wholly or partly private organisations.  Unless the changes are blocked we could end up with for- profit health organisations making behind the scenes decisions on long term NHS provision. We are arguing that the law which says clinical commissioning groups must make those decisions is being subverted and that in planning and supporting ACOs, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and NHS England have fallen below public law standards of openness and transparency.

The thousands of people who have supported this JR demonstrate how important it is it to maintain the NHS, to be involved in its decision making and not to allow control and decision making to be handed over from bodies which the people, through parliament, entrusted with the future of the NHS.

Win or lose, support for the JR has demonstrated that the public is not willing to hand over their NHS to unaccountable, unelected organisations nor to the private sector and the campaign will go on.

In the meantime, cuts and closure of services are occurring across the country, NHS buildings and land are being sold at knock-down prices and non-clinical staff are being transferred from NHS employment into newly-formed companies.  Those plans continue whatever the outcome of this judicial review, so it is important to support local and national campaigns resisting this asset-stripping.

The judicial review claimants are represented by Jenni Richards QC and Peter Mant of 39 Essex Chambers, instructed by Kate Harrison of Harrison Grant Solicitors.


Dr Colin Hutchinson: 07963 323082           Professor Allyson Pollock: 07976 978304

Professor Sue Richards: 07407 379194     Dr Graham Winyard, CBE: 07867 538262


  1. The case has previously been reported on, for example, by The Independent, the MirrorThe Guardian, the BBC,  the BMJ (pay wall) and the Law Society Gazette.
  2. Dr Colin Hutchinson – former Consultant Eye Surgeon in Halifax and Huddersfield and current Chair of Doctors for the NHS;
  3. Professor Allyson Pollock – public health doctor, Professor of Public Health at Newcastle University, founding member of Keep Our NHS Public, former chair of the NHS Consultants’ Association, and co-author of the NHS Reinstatement Bill;
  4. Professor Sue Richards – former senior civil servant in the Cabinet Office, a Director of the National School of Government and Professor of Public Management at Birmingham University, and co-chair of Keep Our NHS Public; and
  5. Dr Graham Winyard CBE – former Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Vice President of the Faculty of Public Health, and Medical Director of the NHS in England where he led the development of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE).
  6. Over £280,000 has been raised from more than 9,000 donations across three rounds of funding on the Crowdjustice website: £26,020 from 850 donations in Round 1, £150,772 from 5,300 donations in Round 2, and £104,765 from 3,348 donations in Round 3.

Follow JR4NHS on Facebook and on Twitter @jr4nhs 


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