West Herts health chiefs face £150,000 legal costs after judicial review win

Health bosses in west Hertfordshire incurred £150,000 in legal costs, after defending plans to redevelop hospital services in court.

Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 10:34 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 10:38 am

West Herts Hospitals Trust is in the process drawing up plans to redevelop health services, currently offered at Watford General, St Albans City and Hemel Hempstead hospitals.

And they are pushing forward with proposals that would focus that future development on existing sites – with the bulk of that redevelopment planned for the Watford site.

But health campaigner Ron Glatter – on behalf of the New Hospital Campaign – has questioned whether the option of a new purpose-built hospital had been fully and fairly considered in earlier stages of the process.

West Herts health chiefs face £150k legal costs after judicial review win

And in October (2020) a two-day judicial review considered the case put forward by Mr Glatter’s legal team – alongside the defence put forward by the health commissioners, Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (HVCCG).

At the heart of the hearing was the question as to whether – or not – there had been a lack of formal public consultation.

But ultimately the high court judge dismissed the claims that the CCG had been unlawful in its decision-making.

Nevertheless it has now emerged that the legal cost to the CCG and the Trust of mounting the defence is in excess of £150,000.

And that does not take onto account of staff time incurred within the two organisations, in preparation for the hearing.

Confirming the costs incurred, a statement issued jointly by both organisations said: “Legal costs borne by the local NHS (Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group and West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust) from successfully defending the recent Judicial Review amount to approximately £150,000.

“This sum takes account of a payment to the CCG of £10,000 from the claimant as a result of losing the legal challenge.”

Commenting on the amount Mr Glatter said that the claimant’s contribution to CCG’s costs had been capped at £10,000 at a hearing in October 2019, when the court had determined there was a case to answer.

Without the cap he said the campaign would not have been able to continue with the legal bid.

In January, Herts Valley CCG issued a statement acknowledging the decision of the judicial review.

“The conclusion reached by the judge, following a high court hearing at the end of October, is that both of the CCG’s decisions were lawful, and the judge has dismissed the claim,” said the statement.

“The judge’s ruling states that we fulfilled our legal duty to involve the public and a formal consultation was not required. We were therefore acting perfectly legally in the decisions we took.

“Colleagues at West Hertfordshire NHS Hospitals Trust will press on with the work they have been doing, with full support from the CCG, to develop proposals as outlined to our boards in October, and discussed with local people throughout this period.

“We will be doing more in the coming months, building on the extensive engagement already undertaken, to involve local residents in working up the detail for our next submission to regulators and government.

“We all look forward very much to bringing those plans to fruition – in new hospital buildings on the current Watford site and with significant investment on the St Albans and Hemel Hempstead sites.”