Urgent Legal Action for Our NHS - Round 2

by #JR4NHS

Urgent Legal Action for Our NHS - Round 2

by #JR4NHS
Case Owner
Fund our fight to get proper consultation, parliamentary scrutiny and respect for the law. Save our NHS from an American-style take-over.
on 10th December 2017
pledged of £144,000 stretch target from 5300 pledges
Case Owner
Fund our fight to get proper consultation, parliamentary scrutiny and respect for the law. Save our NHS from an American-style take-over.

Latest: Jan. 30, 2018

We're winning - but we've got a serious problem

We’re winning our fight against Jeremy Hunt’s and NHS England’s plans to allow private companies to take control of our health and care services - a national public consultation on …

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Please visit our new CrowdJustice page for Round 3 at: 


Jeremy Hunt and NHS England propose allowing private companies to take control of our health and care services. This goes against fundamental NHS principles. Fund our fight to get proper consultation, parliamentary scrutiny and respect for the law. Save our NHS from an American-style take-over.

We have launched Round 2 of our funding appeal. In Round 1, we raised £26,020 in 26.5 hours, which has covered our lawyers’ work up to preparing the case for court. See that episode here https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/jr4nhs/.

Since Round 1, lawyers for the Secretary of State for Health, and for NHS England, have written to our solicitors, rejecting our arguments and saying they will robustly defend any judicial review. Our lawyers have studied these replies and have sent a further letter before action to both of them. We expect to file proceedings in the court shortly.  

Also since Round 1, we are honoured and delighted that Professor Stephen Hawking has joined the case.

What are we seeking and why?

We are seeking a judicial review to stop Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt and NHS England from introducing new commercial, non-NHS bodies to run health and social services without proper public consultation and without full Parliamentary scrutiny.

These non-NHS bodies would be called Accountable Care Organisations” (“ACOs). They would be governed by company and contract law and can be given “full responsibility” for NHS and adult social services.

ACOs were conceived in the US about twelve years ago. In this short clip, two leading American academics talk about the effect of Accountable Care Organisations and private health care in the US. ACOs are being imported into England although they are not recognised in any Act of Parliament.

ACOs would be able to decide on the boundary of what care is free and what has to be paid for. They will be paid more if they save money. They can include private companies (e.g. Virgin in Frimley, Circle in Nottinghamshire), including private insurance and property companies, which can make money from charging. They could also include GP practices, in which case people on their lists would automatically transfer to the ACO in order to be entitled to services. New patients would also have to register with the ACO. They will be allowed to sub-contract all “their” services.

Against the Public Interest

Such commercial ACOs would fundamentally change the NHS and many could profit from a radical reorganisation of health and social services. They would have control over the allocation of NHS and taxpayers’ money. Their accountability for spending it and their obligations to the public would be under commercial contracts, not statutes. This is not in the public interest.

It is also against the public interest that they are being introduced by stealth, without proper public consultation and without full Parliamentary scrutiny.

Just to be clear. Integration of health and care services is a desirable aim, but not whilst their funding and population bases are so different and without new primary legislation. This affects everyone in England.

Who are we?

Professor Stephen Hawking CH CBE FRS - the world-renowned cosmologist and a long-time proponent of the NHS.

Dr Colin Hutchinson - former Consultant Eye Surgeon in Halifax and Huddersfield and current Executive Committee member of Doctors for the NHS.

Professor Allyson Pollock - public health doctor, Professor of Public Health at Newcastle University, founding member of Keep Our NHS Public, former chair of the NHS Consultants’ Association, and co-author of the NHS Reinstatement Bill.

Professor Sue Richards - former senior civil servant in the Cabinet Office, a Director of the National School of Government and Professor of Public Management at Birmingham University, and co-chair of Keep Our NHS Public.

Dr Graham Winyard CBE - former Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Vice President of the Faculty of Public Health, and Medical Director of the NHS in England where he led the development of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE).

We are advised by Harrison Grant Solicitors and Nigel Pleming QC, Jenni Richards QC and Peter Mant of 39 Essex Chambers.

We have also appreciated the assistance of Peter Roderick, co-author of the NHS Reinstatement Bill, and Dr Ben White, Campaign Manager.

What is the Secretary of State and NHS England doing?

The Secretary of State for Health has carried out a consultation on technical changes to regulations in order to facilitate ACOs. But he did this without providing meaningful information about ACOs themselves and without consulting the public or Parliament about what his plans entail.

The technical changes include suspending GP contracts so that they - and their patients - can transfer to the ACO.  They also provide, for the first time, a definition of an “ACO” which confirms that they could be private companies.

The correspondence makes clear that the Secretary of State and NHS England intend that the first ACOs should come into being as soon as regulations are passed and before there has been public consultation.

We say that the Secretary of State and NHS England are obliged to consult and that ACOs lie outside the framework of the current legislation.

We also say that the decision to introduce them in this way is contrary to their duty of transparency in decision making in the NHS.

What do we need for Round 2?

Stage 1, filing claim and permission: £24,000. This is the amount (£20,000 plus VAT) we need to cover all the work up to the point the Court takes a decision on the papers about granting or refusing permission.  

Stage 2, hearings: it is impossible at this moment to know exactly what course the case will take. We need to have sufficient funds to cover the substantive hearing but also to be able to respond to all potential eventualities - such as permission being refused. For now, we estimate that an additional £120,000 (including VAT) would enable us to see the case through to a substantive hearing and judgment, and so we have a Round 2 stretch target of £144,000.

This would also help cover the risk of losing and being ordered to pay two sets of costs. Whilst we will ask the Court to cap our liability for costs, the Court cannot do so until after permission is granted.

That sounds like a lot of money.

We know that these are substantial sums. However, our estimates make pessimistic assumptions on the basis that we may have to pay costs of the other side. They also don't take account of any protection against costs that we will seek from the Court. They therefore cover the worst case scenario. But we need to plan in this way in order to be confident that we can keep the case going, and for the Secretary of State for Health and NHSE to know that as well. 

This will be a big fight. We will not get the NHS back unless and until Parliament acts.

Please give what you can and support local NHS campaigners however possible.

We deeply appreciate help in publicising to friends, family and colleagues via email, social media or word of mouth.

Tweet us https://twitter.com/jr4nhs or contact [email protected] 

Cover Photo / Motif design by Pearce Marchbank. 
Video by John Whalley, Gus Coral and John Furse.
Group and four individual photographs by Daniel Lucas/Dpict Media. 

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Update 8


Jan. 30, 2018

We're winning - but we've got a serious problem

We’re winning our fight against Jeremy Hunt’s and NHS England’s plans to allow private companies to take control of our health and care services - a national public consultation on implementing the policy on accountable care organisations (ACOs) has been conceded, and a judge has ruled that arguments on the lawfulness of the ACO policy itself should be heard.

But we have a serious problem. We’ve raised £180,000 altogether. An amazing and remarkable achievement. We were confident that this would be enough. We were wrong.

The government and NHS England are resisting every inch of the way and have already run up over £90,000 that they have claimed from us. On the basis of their estimated costs we have been advised that we face a potential liability of £350-400,000 if we lose. Plus maybe VAT. If we can’t limit our potential liability, then the case is over. We would have to withdraw.

But we don’t want to withdraw. We want the case to continue. Can we show the government, NHS England and the court that thousands of others do too?

At 8 p.m. tonight we are launching a third round of fundraising.    

This is the link for Round 3: www.crowdjustice.com/case/jr4nhs-round3 

This will be the final update on this web page - for future updates, go to:



Update 7


Jan. 29, 2018

We've got permission

We’ve got permission

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.

We now expect the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Jeremy Hunt, not to lay the regulations to facilitate ACOs that he was planning to do in February. He repeatedly refused last week to delay the regulations when questioned by Sarah Wollaston MP, chair of the Health Select Committee.

Disappointingly, the judge also decided not to cap the costs that the claimants might have to pay the government and NHS England if the judicial review is lost. In view of the large amounts already spent and claimed by the government and NHS England in opposing the case every inch of the way, we are giving careful consideration to next steps on this at the moment.

A report is now on the front page of The Independent:


Update 6


Jan. 24, 2018

We've won an important concession: a national public consultation on ACOs

Thanks to the fantastic, far-reaching and committed campaign involving thousands of people, and our brilliant legal team, the government and NHS England have now accepted that there must be a national public consultation on ACOs, and that no ACO contract will be signed until that’s happened. This is great news, and a clear concession in response to our seeking a judicial review.

NHS England's lawyers promised this to our lawyers on Monday evening, and Jeremy Hunt confirmed this at the Health Select Committee yesterday.

But don't be fooled into thinking they’ve given up. Despite repeated questioning from Sarah Wollaston MP, the Committee chair, Hunt refused to delay the ACO regulations that he's still planning for February, which are intended to facilitate the ACO contract – even though there's no longer an urgent need for them – and he has still not accepted the need for an Act of Parliament before ACOs can operate lawfully.

This is very important because the government has said they will change the definition of ACOs with input from NHS England, but we have absolutely no idea what the new definition will be.

We still remain very concerned about the lack of transparency and the need for primary legislation on ACOs, and so we have told the court this afternoon that we want to press ahead with these points.

Private companies lack transparency and accountability, the opposite of what we want for our public NHS.

This is why we want to make absolutely sure of the definition of "Accountable Care Organisations" in any consultation. We think there is no point in a consultation if the ACOs they consult on are unlawful.

We have been told by the court that we can expect a decision on permission tomorrow, or very early next week.

Thanks once again for all your incredible support.



You can watch Jeremy Hunt giving evidence about ACOs to the Health Select Committee yesterday from about 16.50 in this video – near the end:


You can also read the letters between him and Sarah Wollaston MP here:


Update 5


Jan. 4, 2018

We've made it

We have this evening reached our Round 2 target of £144,000. Absolutely amazing. Thanks to every single person who has donated – over 5,000 donations, an average of £28 – and to all the many individuals and groups who have spread the word in so many different ways and made this possible. This gives us such a boost and a clear signal of the support behind the case.

There has been such a surge of support over the last couple of days that we’ve decided to keep the fundraising open until Sunday morning when it’s scheduled to end, so that donations can still be made.

Check here for more updates on the case very soon. 

Update 4


Dec. 26, 2017

Two-thirds of the way there

Thank you to everybody who has helped to get us this far. Please continue to do what you can to share the link - https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/jr4nhs-round2/

Update 3


Dec. 19, 2017

Half way there

Thank you for all your support. We are just over half way through our funding campaign. Please continue to share the link.

Update 2


Dec. 12, 2017

The case has been filed in court

The case was filed yesterday afternoon in the High Court.

However, the administrative court office has a backlog and told our solicitors that the office would not be able to issue proceedings until our case had got to the front of the queue.

In order that there should be no delay, we have served the papers anyway on the lawyers for the Secretary of State and NHS England.

They have 21 days within which formally to respond.

Update 1


Dec. 8, 2017

Professor Stephen Hawking joins the case

We have just updated the site to reflect Professor Stephen Hawking joining the judicial review as the fifth proposed claimant. What an honour, delight and boost to everybody.

He has made the following statement:

“I have been lucky to receive first-rate care from the NHS. It is a national institution, cherished by me and millions of others, and which belongs to all of us. I am joining this legal action because the NHS is being taken in a direction which I oppose, as I stated in August, without proper public and parliamentary scrutiny, consultation and debate.

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. I want the attention of the people of England to be drawn to what is happening and for those who are entrusted with responsibility for the NHS to account openly for themselves in public, and to be judged accordingly.”

You can read more about it on The Guardian website here, just published, and we think it will be in the paper tomorrow:


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