Hywel Dda University Health Board’s consultation to improve and sustain healthcare across Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire has been upheld as fair and lawful by a High Court Judge this week.

Mr Justice Hickinbottom today delivered his verdict on a Judicial Review application in respect of the Health Board’s 2012 consultation process on potential service change across the region, and specifically in relation to emergency care at Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli.

Refusing permission to move to judicial review on all grounds, the judge said: “On the basis of the submissions and evidence before me, I am wholly unconvinced that any aspect of the procedure adopted by the Health Board or the (Health) Minister was unfair, on unlawful.”

Welcoming the decision, Director of Corporate Services, Chris Wright, said he hoped the judgement provided staff, patients and members of the public with the assurance that the consultation was not only lawful but fully compliant with best practice.

Mr Wright added: “We have always maintained that our consultation fully complied with the law and was open, accessible and inclusive. We are delighted that this has been recognised by the Judge and hope that this marks the end of what has been a long and costly process.

“Our legal costs in defending the case are in the region of £300,000 – money that would have been better spent on front line services.

“We are now eager to continue working with our clinicians, to deliver a fit for purpose emergency service for Llanelli.”

The decision supports an external audit undertaken by an expert, not-for-profit body The Consultation Institute, which awarded the University Health Board a Certificate of Best Practice for its consultation process

The University Health Board was party to two other Judicial Review applications brought against the Minister for Health and Social Services in the same hearing. The first also related to emergency services at Prince Philip and the second to neonatal care at Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest. Both cases were similarly refused.