The Court of Appeal, in judicial review proceedings, has ruled on the question whether Article 8 (the right to respect for private and family life) renders unlawful a PCT’s policy to award funding for medical treatment solely by reference to clinical factors. The policy of the particular PCT excluded consideration of social factors, which would never be taken into account.

In the leading judgment, Lord Justice Toulson stated that the funding policy of the PCT could not be regarded as showing a lack of respect for the appellant’s private and family life so as to bring Article 8 into play. The allocation of healthcare resources strictly according to an assessment of medical need complied with the PCT’s duty to apply those resources for their appropriate purpose, ensuring no preferential treatment based on non-medical grounds.  

Toulson LJ found no support in the authorities for the proposition that the PCT owed a positive duty to favour some patients over others with the same medical condition on the basis of social factors. The appeal was dismissed.  

The outcome of the case is likely to impact on similar cases in the pipeline, such as that involving Derbyshire PCT (see Medical Update – May 2011).  

R (on the application of Condliff) v North Staffordshire Primary Care Trust 2011 WL 2747861