A JUDICIAL review has backed the Healthier Together reorganisation of Greater Manchester hospital services.
Today High Court Judge the Hon Mr Justice Ian Dove has ruled there were no grounds to challenge the decisions of the Healthier Together programme and has concluded that each of the claimant’s grounds must be dismissed. His finding follows a two-day judicial review held before Christmas.
The Greater Manchester Healthier Together Committees in Common (CiC), led by 12 GPs from each Greater Manchester Clinical Commissioning Group, unanimously decided in June 2015 to create four shared single services to improve emergency abdominal surgery standards and patient outcomes. The changes could help save an additional 300 lives a year.
In July 2015, the CiC named Stockport’s Stepping Hill as the fourth specialist site for emergency abdominal surgery. Justice Dove confirmed he was satisfied that there was “no legal error in the decision reached by the Healthier Together CiC”.
Dr Chris Brookes, Executive Medical Director of Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, said: “There are significant and unacceptable differences in the quality of care between the hospitals in Greater Manchester for patients undergoing emergency and high risk abdominal surgery.
“It is fundamentally unacceptable that people in different parts of the region should have better or worse chances of a good outcome after falling ill. The aim of the Healthier Together programme has always been to remove these differences and improve outcomes for patients.
“This judgement upholds our decision and means we can set about implementing changes which will ensure better, more equitable and more effective care for everyone in Greater Manchester.”
Lord Peter Smith, lead for Greater Manchester health and social care devolution, said: “The Heathier Together programme is about putting patients first and about ensuring we deliver a health and care system which meets the needs of our population for decades to come.
“It is also important to remember that Healthier Together is not just about the organisation of hospitals. Significant improvements in primary care and community-based care, which are being delivered as part of the Healthier Together programme, are already in train and improving the lives of thousands of people. The outcome of this court case means we can now continue working together to deliver better care for everyone.”
Dr Jane Eddleston, Healthier Together’s newly appointed Chief Medical Advisory, added: “We are delighted to be able to press ahead with the Healthier Together programme so that we can deliver improved care for the people of Greater Manchester and those that use our services from surrounding areas.
“All parties involved in this court case have a common interest in doing the best for patients. We look forward to working together to implement these changes.”
The judge acknowledges in his ruling that the proceedings have been brought before the court and defended out of a passionate concern, on all sides, for the health and wellbeing of all those who depend on healthcare provisions in Greater Manchester, whether or not they reside there. Healthier Together will continue to work with colleagues across Greater Manchester to ensure improvements in quality and safety and strengthening of services for the benefit of all patients.