Governance and constitutional

Extensive experience advising public sector clients on governance and constitutional issues

Our reputation and long-standing experience in advising all parts of the NHS means that we have an in-depth understanding of NHS structure and powers and its legislative and regulatory framework.

We advise on the legal powers of NHS and other public sector bodies and their officers and all types of vires issues. We also advise on corporate and clinical governance structures, including the development and application of standing orders, standing financial instructions and schemes of delegation. In the past we have advised on the implementation of robust operating procedures and governance arrangements in the establishment by Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) of arm’s length organisations for their provider services arms, and now we are applying the same process to the establishment of CCGs.

We advise applicant Foundation Trust (FT) clients on the drafting and development of FT constitutions and the ancillary governance documents needed to satisfy Monitor’s requirements. We also advise our FT clients on the evolution of their governance structures on an ongoing basis.

We have been involved in advising a number of NHS organisations on the establishment of ‘hosting arrangements’, for example for the purposes of procurement hubs.

We have advised on many of the most high profile and largest statutory consultation processes that have taken place in the NHS nationally.

We also advised on the role of PCT Boards in relation to the Transforming Community Services and Equitable Access programmes.

Healthcare services regularly face decisions regarding disclosure of information of a political and/or commercially sensitive nature. We provide advice on the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Data Protection Act 1998 and other legislation involving rights of access to information.

Research governance is one of the core standards all organisations should achieve in delivering NHS care. Funders, sponsors and investigators have duties to undertake research work which complies with both statutory and ethical requirements. We advise clients on these issues.

Increasingly, every healthcare organisation is assessed on the quality of its governance. It is essential for organisations to have robust policies and procedures in place to satisfy the requirements of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) as well as ensuring the organisation as a whole is kept up to date with statutory requirements, new knowledge and that employees’ training is current.

The content of a policy and its application within an organisation can be scrutinised in litigation, in judicial review, or during a negligence action. We regularly advise on appropriate policy content and the interpretation and application of a particular procedure. Robust governance has financial implications extending far beyond NHS Resolution premiums.

Key services and issues

Our work

We supported the North West Collaborative Procurement Hub in its evolution into the next generation North West Collaborative Commercial Agency, including involving a change in its host organisation.

We have supported a number of NHS Trusts and Mental Health Trusts in their applications to become Foundation Trusts.

We advised on the ‘Making It Better’ and ‘Healthy Futures’ consultations on behalf of all the PCTs in the Greater Manchester area. Both these consultation processes have successfully withstood legal challenge. Elsewhere we have advised on consultations such as the Calderdale and Huddersfield maternity services review and the Dover Project in Kent.

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Setting up new healthcare businesses

Advising entrepreneurs on setting up new healthcare businesses including businesses delivering primary and community health services, medical services for foreign visitors to the UK and supplying locum doctors and nurses, including via online marketplace/gig economy models.

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