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Community nursing transfer held up by legal threat in Gloucestershire

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The transfer of community services in Gloucestershire to a social enterprise is expected to be delayed following a legal challenge.

Lawyers representing Michael Lloyd, a user of community services in Stroud, contacted the primary care trust earlier this month threatening to commence a judicial review over the decision for its provider arm to be taken over by Gloucestershire Care Services Community Interest Company.

Opponents say staff and the public were not properly consulted on the move and that services were not put up to competitive tender.

Staff were due to be transferred to the social enterprise on 1 October but a spokeswoman told Nursing Times on Tuesday the PCT could no longer confirm the timeline for the transfer.

NHS Gloucestershire chief executive Jan Stubbings said: “We are responding to the correspondence received.

“In deciding on the future management of our community services to meet local needs and circumstances, we have followed all applicable policy and guidance. We have always been committed to engaging with our communities on the opportunities and challenges ahead.”

But she said the PCT still “believe[s]” transferring services to the community interest company was “the most appropriate solution for the future”.

The provider arms of all PCTs were due to be divested in April this year. In Gloucestershire, as in some other places, staff have exercised a “right to provide” these services.

Campaign group Stroud Against the Cuts — who are backing the legal challenge – planned to seek an interim injunction to stop the transfer, but say they have been informed that the transfer will not go ahead on schedule. The group says a judicial review will be launched if the transfer goes ahead.

Spokeswoman Caroline Molloy told Nursing Times the PCT had acted “secretively” and had not consulted on options other than the takeover of services by Gloucestershire Care Services.

She said:  “The staff consultation [by NHS Gloucestershire] was a joke, they ran events but they were just information events.”

A letter from law firm Leigh Day and Co. to the PCT on 19 September said: “…the potential detriment to the services upon which our client relies means that our client would have standing to bring a judicial review to challenge the decision of the PCT to award these contracts to GCIC without any competitive process which gave other economic operators, including NHS trust, the opportunity to bid for the contracts.”

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