Experts believe a legal case will be granted to challenge against plans to close an eating disorder unit in the North East.
Two sufferers of the condition have instructed lawyers to advice them on bringing a judicial review against a decision to close Newcastle’s Richardson Eating Disorder Service (REDS), and a commissioning decision which has resulted in patients being offered admission to units up to 200 miles from their family and friends.
Simon Garlick, of Ben Hoare Bell solicitors, who is working on behalf of the two sufferers said: “The claimants are now applying for legal aid to bring their challenge. I anticipate that they will be granted legal aid.”
Health chiefs have made the controversial move to close REDS based at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary.
Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust is working with NHS England to open a new eating disorder intensive day service at Benfield House, Walkergate Park, Newcastle.
Lawyers have sent formal pre-proceedings letters to both organisations on the grounds they have acted unlawfully by failing to consult with people affected or potentially affected by the proposed changes.
A North East Eating Disorder Action Group spokesperson said: “We applaud the courage of these two young women in challenging NHS England and Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation’s Trust’s failure to communicate over their flawed plans to reorganise eating disorder services in Newcastle. It is a very brave move they are taking on behalf of all users of the REDS service and very much appreciated by other patients and their carers.”
Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah is set to lead a debate in Parliament on Monday to highlight the need for the award-winning REDS unit as she is concerned at vulnerable patients being forced to travel long distances for the treatment they need and the impact this has on their families.
James Duncan, chief executive at Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are pleased that commissioners have supported us in the development of an Intensive Day Service which will be based in Newcastle. This will enhance local eating disorder services and will reduce the need for people to be admitted to hospital.”