Navigating through the NHS maze: a groundbreaking new practitioner guide from the legal action group... | DDLSBulletin

Book review - NHS LAW AND PRACTICE


BOOK REVIEW

NHS LAW AND PRACTICE

By David Lock QC and Hannah Gibbs

With Samantha Broadfoot QC, Fiona Scolding QC, Andrew Byass, Richard Clarke, Ben Fullbrook, Alistair Mills and James Neill of Landmark Chambers

ISBN: 

Print:  978 1 91227 306 5

Ebook:  978 1 912273 307 2 

Legal Action Group

The access to justice charity 

www.lag.org.uk

An appreciation by Elizabeth Robson Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers and Phillip Taylor MBE, Head of Chambers and Reviews Editor, “The Barrister”

The Legal Action Group (LAG) once again has brought out an accessible and readable legal text which, not before time, uncomplicates (as much as is possible) a notoriously complicated area of law, namely that which pertains to the NHS.  Under specific scrutiny are the legal structures and frameworks within which the NHS operates.

Oft criticised, but much loved – and arguably the largest employer in Europe -- the NHS spends over £120 billion per year of public money.  Strange then, as co-authors David Lock QC and Hannah Gibbs point out, that ‘there is no existing text which explains how the legal rules of the NHS operate.’  Their sheer complexity is daunting in the extreme.

Leading a team of expert practitioners from Landmark Chambers, the authors refer to ‘one of the most complicated legal frameworks we have ever come across’ and express the hope that this book will ‘act as a guide through the NHS maze’.  Appropriately enough, the publication of this pioneering legal text coincides with the seventieth anniversary of the NHS and a highly significant contribution to legal literature it is.

The point is made that the NHS is not a single entity.  As this text reminds us, it operates through networks of different organizations, some public, some commercial profit-generating entities delivering NHS services under contract.  These collectively, employ some 1.7 million people.  Against all this, the total budget for the NHS is an ongoing and incessant subject of political debate.

The stated aim of this volume of over 1,000 pages is ‘to attempt to explain the legal structures of the NHS and how decisions are made in areas other than the treatment choices open to clinician and patient.’  The irony here is that when matters relating to treatment go right, the legal structures which support the delivery of the necessary clinical services rarely loom as important.  It is usually when something goes wrong that the structures upon which decisions are based come under the intense scrutiny from which legal entanglements all too often ensue.

As the subject is vast and the issues too broad to be discussed in detail here, it is sufficient to say that the book deals with such matters as, for example, clinical commissioning groups, public health, patient choice, GP practice management, dental services, complaints procedures and of course, much more.   Particularly topical is the chapter on who can access NHS care charges for overseas visitors.

With its lucid, plain English approach, the book is accessible to any, and all, practitioners, whether lawyer or judge, experienced or not.  Plus – it offers a multitude of research references, from cases, statutes and statutory instruments, to European and international legislation.  The footnoting is extensive and there is also a table of guidance.

With the NHS under constant scrutiny, especially in this anniversary year, the publication of this book is timely -- and as practitioners will almost inevitably come up against NHS-related matters during their careers, every practitioner should have a copy.

The publication date is cited as at 10th May 2018. The purpose of Legal Action Group is to promote equal access to justice for all members of society who are socially, economically or otherwise disadvantaged.  To this end, it seeks to improve law and practice, the administration of justice and legal services.