Posted by: John Brace | 14th July 2019

Is the decision to close 2 Walk In Centres at Moreton and New Ferry last week unlawful?

Is the decision to close 2 Walk In Centres at Moreton and New Ferry last week unlawful?

                                    

Joint Strategic Commissioning Board (Wirral Council) 9th July 2019 Left Co-Chair Cllr Chris Jones Right Co-Chair Dr Paula Cowan

Joint Strategic Commissioning Board (Wirral Council) 9th July 2019 Left Co-Chair Cllr Chris Jones Right Co-Chair Dr Paula Cowan

The author is currently a party to an Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber) case where one of the multiple grounds of appeal is that the decision subject to judicial review is alleged to have been made by the wrong people.

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Joint Strategic Commissioning Board (Wirral Council) 9th July 2019 Part 1 of 2

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Joint Strategic Commissioning Board (Wirral Council) 9th July 2019 Part 2 of 2

Last week I was present at a public meeting of Wirral Council’s Joint Strategic Commissioning Board (videos above) and a decision made solely by the Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group (Wirral CCG) individuals on the Joint Board was made to close two walk in centres at Moreton and New Ferry.

This is the long list of reasons why I consider the decision to be unlawful (which are grounds for judicial review). However knowing Wirral Council as I do there is very little point in raising this internally!

Ground 1 – Decision made by wrong people

The Joint Strategic Commissioning Board is constituted by Wirral Council as a Cabinet Committee.

At the Wirral Council Cabinet Committee meeting held on the 24th June 2019 Cllrs Chris Jones, Julie McManus and Tom Usher were appointed to it with Cllr Anita Leech as a deputy.

However the Cabinet only has the legal power to appoint to a Cabinet sub-committee, not a joint committee, in the latter case the power to appoint does not rest with Wirral Council’s Cabinet but with all 66 Wirral Council councillors, to do otherwise is a breach of the Local Government Act 1972, section 102(1)(b).

Although the Wirral CCG can suggest names for the Wirral CCG part of the JSCB, as a Cabinet Committee of Wirral Council all 66 Wirral Council councillors would have to agree to the individual nominations of the Wirral CCG Members and this hasn’t actually happened.

Ground 2 – Decision made by disqualified people

Section 104 of the Local Government Act 1972 disqualifies certain individuals from being on joint committees such as Wirral Council employees (with the exception of teachers or school employees) and those in politically restricted posts.

This is because of the conflict of interest that would arise.

Graham Hodkinson (Wirral Council’s Director of Adult Social Services) and Julie Webster (Director for Health and Wellbeing) are both Wirral Council employees that are in politically restricted posts. Both are considered as being part of the Joint Strategic Commissioning Board as they are both on the Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group Governing Body, yet both are not only disqualified from being on this joint committee, but even if appointed to it ex-officio by virtue of their membership of the Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group Governing Body would be required to declare this employment interest at JSCB meetings and not take part in decision making (or even be present in the room).

Ground 3 – Decision outside Policy framework

Wirral Council has a stated and agreed policy agreed at a previous public meeting by all 66 Wirral Council councillors to oppose closures of the walk in centres. In order for a recommendation of the joint committee to be valid, both halves (Wirral Council and Wirral CCG) have to both approve it. The Joint Strategic Commissioning Board decisions (a Wirral Council Cabinet Committee) are subject to the policy and budget framework of Wirral Council and it can’t make decisions that fall outside the agreed policy framework.

None of the Wirral Council councillors voted in favour of the recommendation, therefore the recommendation fell and was not approved even if the Wirral CCG side of the join committee voted for it.

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Responses

  1. So if 66 councilliors said no, why was pubilic money wasted paying expeneses to these people to hold a meeting to close the walk in centres?
    Isn’t it up to the NHS if and when they close walk in centres?
    When you look back over the years, to the 60’s and 70’s how great wirral used to be, and then in the last twenty years wirral council has killed it!

    • Thanks for your comment.

      A1) Because the Wirral CCG wanted it to happen.

      A2) No, because the NHS (Wirral CCG) signed a contract with Wirral Council to pool budgets and decision making on healthcare commissioning (which included urgent care such as the Walk-In Centres). So to do it this way is not only illegal but also a breach of contract as far as I can tell.

      Any decisions on changes to the joint commissioning have to be made jointly. It can’t be unilaterally done by the Wirral CCG unless its something outside the pooled budget/joint commissioning arrangements.

      Also councillors have legal powers to delay the decision making process too by referring a Wirral CCG decision to the Secretary of State.

      Hope that helps!

  2. A big thank you for your investigative research John. From Gordon of DONHS.

    • Thanks for those kind words Gordon.

      But I’m just doing my job as a journalist and writing it as I see it.

      And Leonora should get some credit too for putting up with me writing and publishing an article and videos on a Sunday!

      Unfortunately I’m probably going to have to reduce the frequency of articles somewhat on this blog though as other aspects of my job and personal life are likely to impact on the free time I have for actually writing articles.

  3. […] She’s going to feel rather conflicted when her council colleagues refer the decision back to the Secretary of State for Health especially now that the whole process has been exposed by local video man John Brace https://johnbrace.com/is-the-decision-to-close-2-walk-in-centres-at-moreton-and-new-ferry-last-week-… […]


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