Embargoed until: Tuesday, 10th October 2000
Milburn rejects CHC's call for cash for Judicial Review
Secretary of State for Health, Alan Milburn has rejected the Association of Community Health Councils (ACHCEW) request for funds to pursue a judicial review of the consultation process that led to their abolition. The organisation has received the legal opinion of Queens Counsel that they have 'good grounds' to pursue judicial review. However they lack the funds to pursue the issue through the courts.
In his response to the request, Alan Milburn refuses to accept that Community Health Councils had 'any relevant legitimate expectation' to be consulted about their own abolition; he suggests that the intervention of the courts in such a matter would be 'without precedent and contrary to basic constitutional principles; he states his intention to resist judicial review; and, he refuses to give an undertaking that he would not seek costs from ACHCEW in the event of an unsuccessful application.
Donna Covey, Director of ACHCEW commented:
'The minister's suggestion that our aim is to contravene basic constitutional principles or to restrain primary legislation is unjust. Our sole aim throughout this affair has been to obtain meaningful consultation with the Department of Health about the future of an effective independent watchdog for the NHS.'
Donna Covey, continued:
'There is widespread concern across the health community about the government's proposals on patient representation. We only considered judicial review with great reluctance in the hope that it would persuade the minister to enter into constructive dialogue with ourselves and all those who share our concerns.'
'We will now need some time to consult our membership about how best to take this matter forward.'
For further information please contact: Murray Benham on - 020 7609 8138
Issue date: 9/10/00
Notes to Editors