Last update 19th. June 2006


Disappointment at GP contract ruling as consultation process was 'flawed'

The Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health (CPPIH) has today criticised the decision by Mr Justice Collins to dismiss a charge brought by North East Derbyshire patient, Pam Smith against North East Derbyshire PCT, of failure to properly consult in awarding a GP contract to a US firm.

Sharon Grant, Chair of CPPIH, commented:

"This is a very bad day for patient involvement. The decision is a farce. On the one hand Mr Justice Collins agreed that the consultation process was flawed, but then claimed that even if the process had been conducted properly the consequence was likely to have been the same. How does he know? And what does this say for real, effective consultation in our so-called patient-led NHS?"

The case was brought by Pam Smith, from Langwith, who had been concerned that her local NHS Trust North East Derbyshire Primary Care had failed to consult properly when it awarded a GP Contract to the US company, United Health Europe.

Mrs Grant concluded:

"As much of the emphasis is now on a health service populated by a range of suppliers, it is vital that consultation is real and meaningful for patients. This case will have an impact not just for the people of North East Derbyshire, but sends a message to all patients throughout England. The message is a worrying one; especially as it would appear to give a legal licence to PCTs to practice flawed and ineffective consultation.

It raises some very important questions,

We call upon Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Health, to immediately review this decision and its impact upon the right of patients and the public to expect and participate in genuine consultation."