Court win means NHS can move forward with vital improvements to stroke services in Kent and Medway

24 February 2020

The High Court has emphatically ruled in favour of the NHS in Kent and Medway over the decision to establish ‘hyper acute stroke units’ (HASUs) at Darent Valley Hospital, Maidstone Hospital and William Harvey Hospital. This will bring improvements to stroke care and reduce avoidable deaths and disability.

The judicial review process has two stages: permission, where the judge decides if there are grounds for a review, and then the review itself if permission is granted. The case presented to the court was based on eight grounds against the NHS. The judge considered but denied permission for six of the eight grounds because they did not meet the legal requirements for judicial review. The judge did grant permission for a judicial review on the remaining two grounds. After considering the legal arguments on these two the judge dismissed the claims.

Speaking about the ruling, Rachel Jones, Senior Responsible Officer for the Stroke Review said, “We are extremely pleased that the judge’s ruling means that we can improve stroke care and outcomes for local people.

“The review of urgent stroke services, which started back in late 2014, has always been about providing the highest quality stroke care for patients and certainty for our hard-working staff.

“Evidence from other parts of the country, and from around the world, shows that this new way of providing stroke care reduces death and disability from stroke. Our focus now will be on implementing the new stroke units as soon as possible so we can deliver much-needed improvements.

“We understand the claimants will be disappointed by this outcome and we are committed to continuing to work with local communities where there are concerns about the impact of the changes.”

The NHS is awaiting the outcome of the referral to the Secretary of State and the subsequent Independent Reconfiguration Panel review of the stroke programme, which they hope to receive in the near future. Until then, the NHS will work on developing a timeline for implementing the new hyper acute stroke units and will publish further information on likely go-live dates for the HASUs as soon as possible after the outcome of the Secretary of State referral is known.

Full details of the court case, including court papers and the judgement are available at www.kentandmedway.nhs.uk/stroke/jr