A more recent version of these Rationing notes – written by Oxford students – is available here.
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Rationing Rationing: The assessment of healthcare needs and whether or not to fulfil them
Hasman, Hope and Osterdal: So what is a healthcare need?
o 1. Where a patient is below an accepted state of well-being and there is a treatment which can improve their condition o 2. Where treatment will raise a person's welfare to or above a certain threshold o 3. Where treatment will offer a patient a significant increase in well being. The law on rationing
Statute o NHS Act 2006 s.1:
? The secretary of state must promote a comprehensive health service
to such extent as he considers necessary to meet all reasonable requirements such as can be provided within the resources available
It is therefore clear that it is permissible to take into account financial considerations o when deciding whether to offer treatment to particular patients or groups of patients
However, the broad phrasing of M's duty makes it very difficult to enforce o And even if they tried under a breach of statutory duty, the court in Re HIV Haemophiliac Litigation held that the previous 1977 NHS Act did not provide the basis for an action.
EU Law o R(Watts) v Bedford PCT and the Sec State for Health : W suffered constant hip pain and had limited mobility, and was stuck on a one year waiting list for a Hip replacement. She applied to have the operation done in France using EU law, which conferred a right to be treated in another MS at public expense where such treatment was not available within the time normally necessary for getting it in the resident MS.
? Munby J:
Art 49 (freedom to obtain services) does apply to medical and hospital services, but such a claim could only succeed if prior authorisation for treatment from the UK o But EU law claim only refers to the normal NHS waiting time, and this has not passed yet
Art 49 EC applies to the NHS o And "time normally necessary for obtaining treatment" takes into account his current state of health and the probable cause of the disease
? Not a consideration of normal waiting times - the focus is on clinical judgement and the impact of any delay.
A UK citizen can only go abroad if the NHS authorises the treatment
o In deciding whether to give authorisation, the NHS has to take into account the clinical needs of the patient
? This refers to the amount/degree of pain, the nature of their disability
and an objective assessment of the patient's medical condition and the history and probable course of their illness. o Whether a delay is undue is decided by reference to those factors just listed
? Economic factors and budgetary constraints are not relevant features.
Judicial Review - generally considered under the ground that The decision was unreasonable - making a decision so unreasonable that no reasonable decision maker would make it o No absolute duty to provide treatment
Lord Steyn: o M must bear in mind the comprehensive service he is under a duty to promote o However, so long as he pays regard to that duty, the fact that the service will not be comprehensive
? doesn't mean he's in contravention of it
Indeed, a comprehensive service may never, for human, financial or resource reasons, be achievable o M must take into account the resources available to him and the demands on those services o If the body has taken into account relevant/irrelevant considerations may help a JR be successful
? R(Ross) v West Sussex PCT: C challenged a decision by WSPCT not to fund a cancer drug Lenaildomide. It had not yet been ratified as cost effective by NICE. 60% of PCTs funded the drug but the rest did not, it being within the power of each PCT to decide, rationally and logically, what to spend on to meet the reasonable needs to the people in its local area. The advantage to C to Lenaildomide was that it did not have the same side effect as a different drug C could not longer take
Grenfell J o While each body can't have a specific clinical expert in each funding decision on the panel for each case
? It does need to seek appropriate guidance from experts,
the lack of such expert evidence led here to patently incorrect conclusions, such as that Lenaildomide had no robust effect o Where legitimate expectation engendered - see Coughlan Should Financial Considerations be taken into account in JR proceedings?
The general rule o R v Cambridge HA ex p B : B was diagnosed to be suffering from leaukemia. It was successfully treated but kept coming bacl After a relapse, B's doctors thought it was not in her best interests to have a third chemo course
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