A top lawyer representing Hands Off HRI has said a High Court injunction will be brought against local NHS bosses if they enact a controversial hospital shake-up ‘by stealth’.
Prominent public law solicitor Yogi Amin urged campaigners to watch out for changes by the back door at HRI and Calderdale Royal.
Mr Amin said that while local health chiefs had elected to take their Right Care Right Time Right Place plan to the next stage, they were far from receiving the go-ahead necessary to enact their plan.
At a Hands Off HRI public meeting on Monday, Mr Amin said he had seen other NHS trusts make changes to hospitals by stealth.
Mr Amin said if local health bosses proceeded with the plan by ‘stealth’ he would apply for an injunction in the High Court.
He said: “It could mean the closure of a ward, redundancies, changing one service from one site to another.
“It could be people’s jobs finishing and not re-employing someone.
“I’ve seen where someone just did not renew the lease on a building and by stealth the changes go through.”
Mr Amin said: “If they try stealth changes write to their solicitor saying you will bring an injunction in the High Court to stop them making these changes.”
The partner at Irwin Mitchell added that Hands Off HRI had a ‘reasonable prospect’ of a successful legal challenge – but it would have to wait nine to 12 months.
Greater Huddersfield and Calderdale CCGs (clinical commissioning groups), the NHS organisations behind the plan, have to devise a ‘full business case’.
This is expected to take nine to 12 months, in which they must address concerns raised by the public and Calderdale and Kirklees councillors.
Mr Amin said the plan, to close Huddersfield A&E and centralise emergency care in Halifax, was a ‘moving target’.
He said the campaign and solicitors needed to find the ‘best time to shoot the target’.
Mr Amin said: “If they haven’t addressed the complaints we can bring a legal challenge with a reasonable prospect of success... but not one, we would suggest, now.”
He added: “If they say they’ve won and are proceeding they are wrong.
“They are at stage two of a six-stage process.”
Mr Amin reiterated that the CCGs must not make changes in the interim.
The CCGs decided to proceed to the next stage of their Right Care Right Time Right Place plan last month – despite widespread opposition. A Calderdale and Kirklees joint scrutiny panel has given the CCGs three months to address their concerns or the plan may be referred to an independent reconfiguration panel and ultimately, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.