Stephen Hawking campaign group wins judicial review of NHS 'privatisation' plans

A campaign group backed by Professor Stephen Hawking has been granted permission to challenge Jeremy Hunt in the High Court over plans to allow private companies to play a greater role in the NHS.

The physicist has warned that introducing commercial companies to run parts of the health and social services would amount to an "attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS", while campaigners said they feared the Government was trying to sneak the changes through "during the clamour of Brexit".

The proposals will now be subject to judicial review, which is expected to take place "as soon as possible after March 14".

I have decided to join Dr. Colin Hutchinson, Professor Allyson Pollock, Professor Sue Richards and Dr. Graham Winyard in...

Posted by Stephen Hawking on Friday, December 8, 2017

Founded by three doctors and a university professor, campaign group JR4NHS say that the introduction of accountable care organisations (ACOs) will "Americanise" the NHS.

The campaigners say the ACOs will decide the boundary of what care is free and what has to be paid for, and that they will be paid more if they save money.

Mr Hunt's Department of Health and Social Care has rejected claims about ACOs as "irresponsible scaremongering".

NHS England is due to hold a national 12-week consultation on the contracting agreements for the ACOs, which supporters say will help to better coordinate care and improve patient services.

Jeremy Hunt's department has dismissed claim about ACOs as "scaremongering" (PA)

However Prof Hawking said the NHS "must be protected from those who want to privatise it" when he announced his support for the legal action in December.

He previously said in a statement: "I am concerned that accountable care organisations are an attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS."

"They have not been established by statute, and they appear to be being used for reducing public expenditure, for cutting services and for allowing private companies to receive and benefit from significant sums of public money for organising and providing services."

JR4NHS was founded by former consultant eye surgeon Dr Colin Hutchinson, public health professor and doctor Professor Allyson Pollock, Dr Graham Winyard CBE, a former medical director of NHS England, and public management professor Sue Richards.

On its page on, JR4NHS said: "We are delighted to say that the court has granted permission for the judicial review to proceed to a full hearing "as soon as possible" after 14 March 2018.

"After last week's concession of a national 12-week public consultation in the spring, Mr Justice Walker has decided that arguments on the need for primary legislation and on transparency "merit a full hearing". This is fantastic news."

Professor Allyson Pollock and Colin Hutchinson talk about Accountable Care Organisations (ACOs)

Professor Allyson Pollock and Colin Hutchinson talk about Accountable Care Organisations (ACOs). Donate here:

Posted by Jr4nhs on Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: "We strongly resist the misleading claims in this action; it is irresponsible scaremongering to suggest that ACOs are being used to support privatisation and harm the fundamental principles of the NHS.

"The NHS will remain a taxpayer-funded system free at the point of use; ACOs are simply about making care more joined-up between different health and care organisations.

"Our consultation on changes to support ACOs is entirely appropriate and lawful.

"We believe it is right that local NHS leaders and clinicians have the autonomy to decide the best solutions to improve care for the patients they know best -- and any significant local changes are always subject to public consultation and due legal process."

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