The Keep Wythenshawe Special campaign group (KWS), led by senior medics, incorporated a private company limited by guarantee on 23 September 2015. This company lodged an application for permission for judicial review on 12 October 2015. Permission was granted on 7 November and the hearing is now listed for 8 and 9 December at Manchester Civil Justice Centre.
The KWS website states that the judicial review is brought on the grounds that the decision was unlawful and/or irrational on the basis that the decision not to appoint Wythenshawe Hospital as a specialist site was only taken on the basis of travel and access criteria, rather than taking into account the responses from the public consultation. It also argues that the consideration of the travel and access criteria was flawed in that it did not take into account all of Wythenshawe Hospital's travel connections and considered a wider catchment area than that referred to in the public consultation. The Equalities Impact Assessment provided also did not give due regard to those living in the wider catchment area.
The Healthier Together Committees have stated that they have reserved £500,000 to defend the judicial review, which they argue could have been spent on patient care and local services. The Manchester Evening News has reported that officials have stated that if the judicial review is successful the consultation process will be re-run. Should the hearing go ahead, it will be a focus for many local healthcare and devolution campaigners; a recent rally organised by KWS was reportedly attended by more than 1,000 people.
We will watch the case and any subsequent developments with interest – the issue of the weight to be given to consultation responses, the degree of discretion afforded to the decision maker, and the relatively novel nature of the challenge (particularly the status of those bringing it) mean that the case has the potential to set a number of precedents.