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Battle over transfer of NHS services to social enterprise heads for High Court

The dispute over NHS Gloucestershire’s plans to transfer services and more than 3,000 staff to a community interest company is to go to the High Court.

NHS Gloucestershire had planned to complete the transfer to Gloucestershire Care Services Community Interest Company (CIC) on 1 October.

However, Leigh Day, representing local resident Michael Lloyd, wrote to the trust warning that it would seek an injunction blocking the move.

NHS Gloucestershire decided to examine its position and agreed not to transfer services without providing the law firm with three days’ notice.

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It has now given that notice and Mr Lloyd has formalised his legal challenge.

Jan Stubbings, Chief Executive of NHS Gloucestershire, said: “I have agreed not to sign the contracts required to effect the transfer pending the outcome of a hearing. The parties have made a joint application to the court for an early hearing to resolve matters as quickly as possible.”

Stubbings argued that concluding the arrangements for the transfer was in the interests of patients and staff and would ensure service continuity and stability.

“Timely resolution of outstanding legal matters is also in the interests of the taxpayer and public funds,” she said.

The NHS Gloucestershire chief executive insisted that the trust had followed all applicable policy and guidance in making its decision to transfer services to the CIC.

“Through this process, we believe we have identified the most appropriate solution for the future,” Stubbings added. “We now have a clear direction with the majority of our community health services becoming part of a social enterprise – working in the community interest and for the social good.”

In its warnings to the trust Leigh Day claimed that NHS Gloucestershire had failed to meet a legal duty to offer the opportunity to bid for the contracts to other economic operators, including NHS trusts which operate primary and community care services in counties near to Gloucestershire.

The trust’s attempt to enter into a contract with the community interest company constituted an unlawful procurement process, it added.

Philip Hoult

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