In the recently decided case of R (on the application of F) v Wirral Borough Council which can be accessed here the claimants sought to judicially review a decision of the council, alleging that the council had unlawfully failed to properly assess their social care needs and failed to provide an appropriate care plan.
The claim for judicial review was dismissed and the court stressed that litigation is not the appropriate way to challenge disputes about needs assessment or care planning. The court said it was not the appropriate venue to consider such matters which call for specialist professional judgment and a more suitable route was open to the claimants if they wanted to challenge the assessment, namely the local authority’s complaints process.
Although, in this case, the court only considered social care assessments by local authorities the principle will be equally applicable in the health sector. This judgment should indicate to patients that disputes about care planning in the NHS should be pursued as complaints, not as litigation.