Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Judicial Review - Letter Before Claim to be sent to the LCFT

After taking advice yesterday, Beds in the Orchard contacted their solicitor and asked for a Letter Before Claim to be sent to the Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust with regards to taking them to court for a Judicial Review into their action of closing The Orchard to women.

When taking action, even temporary, that has a direct affect on a Protected Characteristic as outlined in the Equality Act of 2010, in this case a person's sex, a public body must pay due regard to the act and must publish documentation about how due regard was given when asked. The Trust as unable to provide such information and are therefore liable to Judicial Review.

Below are some of the questions that have been asked amongst campaigners and our responses.

What does this mean?
The Letter Before Claim will lay out the case for how the Trust has made a decision in a way that contravenes the Equality Act.  It will give them the opportunity to negotiate a resolution with our campaign before it goes to court.

Sounds expensive.
Judicial Review claims are eligible for Legal Aid.  For someone to be eligible for Legal Aid they need to be in receipt of certain benefits - in our case ESA, have savings of less than 8K and less than 100k of equity in any property they own.  Because of the nature of the people we are supporting, there are a number of our group who qualify for Legal Aid.

Do you really want to go to court?
This campaign has always been about returning inpatient care to the women of North Lancashire and that is all we want.  We would naturally prefer to do this out of court so that the public money that funds the NHS was spent on patient care rather than court cases.  

What next?
We would appeal to the LCFT to find a way to return The Orchard to a mixed sex facility as soon as possible and to not close the facility to women again.  We are still at a stage where we can resolve this together and as our case is quite clear cut it would benefit no one for this to be taken fully down the legal route.


  1. Wishing you every success with the campaign, I hope Lancashire Care gets some Christmas spirit and does everything it can to return the beds it closed to the women who will need them to be close to their families over Christmas.

  2. Thank you for your comment. We hope they do too!

    It would be a lovely end to what has been a busy time campaigning to help women in our area, knowing that there are beds close to home for them at Christmas.

  3. From the outset I can openly state my name.

    I am Chris (Christopher) Balchin. My LCFT credentials you will find in my comment earlier in this blog.

    I am so grateful for this latest posting!
    It is of great benefit to me personally in my one man campaign for Justice for disabled people in The former Lancaster Unit, at its replacement The Orchard, and around attitudes to disabled people's experience within the Trust generally.
    My campaign has received warm words but little success since 2010 when I was an inpatient sufferring the effects of a serious breakdown.

    I today met with genuinely concerned senior managers in the Trust. These managers were made aware of my concerns for the first time today and were genuinely shocked at my stories. I believe they are taking this and other issues very seriously indeed.
    It had not occurred to me that the Trust needed to take Due Regard for Disability when earlier mentioned, but your wording opened my eyes to the obvious.
    All Ive heard from project managers and the Architect was that Regulations are different for a refurbishment to that of a new build.
    Other management just referred to cost implications.
    I continually questioned the legitimacy of those comments where no facilities are provided at all, or where facilities are so lacking that there might as well be NONE.
    The room lauded to me as 'The Disabled Room' is named such for one reason and one reason only - it has a larger floor area. Further, this Disabled Room is on the Men's Wing.

    I received no reply when I asked where the Women's Disabled Room was

    If those people that I have previously spoken to thought I would go away, be assured I never would, but the stress of their inaction and dismissive behaviour might have caused a relapse in my health forcing me back to the inadequate conditions of the Orchard. I would not have coped with that thoughe so would not have likely survived.

    However, though my only technology is a phone, I see it can be so beneficial in bringing justice to the oppressed.
    It is amazing what Public Knowledge of a situation can do.