The Government is trying to persuade a court that it did not act unlawfully when it announced a series of measures to cut the costs of health care, in an effort to protect a patient from a dangerous and expensive coronavirus pandemic.
But Dr Robert Peston, the acting Chief Medical Officer, said on Monday that the Government’s case had been based on “irrational fear” rather than fact.
Dr Peston’s comments were the latest in a series by senior Government ministers who have been critical of the High Court’s decision to strike down a ruling that declared the Government had breached the law by imposing “unreasonable” costs on doctors, nurses and patients.
The High Court rejected the Government argument that the decision to impose the costs was based on fear, saying the Government was not justified in imposing the measures in the first place.
However, the Government has insisted the measures were justified in order to protect people from “unnecessary” risk of serious disease.
In its judgment on Monday, the High Courts ruled that the measures introduced in February 2016 were lawful, because they were designed to “preserve the integrity of the NHS”.
The decision was the first in a string of legal challenges to the Government measures since the pandemic, and the first to strike a blow at the Government.
Dr David Cameron said on Saturday the Government should apologise and withdraw the measures.
The decision to limit the number of beds to 12 and cut the number to three was a “political decision” to protect patients from an epidemic, he said.
“The Government has been completely wrong and has misled the courts,” he added.
In its judgement, the Court said it found the Government actions were “in accordance with the legislative scheme” for the pandemics declared by Parliament, and that it had acted in a lawful manner to protect the public from “dangerous” disease.
Dr Parson, who is the first chief medical officer to take on the role in the Government, said it was not a “silver bullet” to prevent the pandes outbreak from spreading.
But he said the Government would continue to do its part by reducing costs.
He said the measures would be rolled out gradually over time, rather than as a single policy, which he said would put pressure on hospitals to provide the most effective care.
“We need to keep that in mind as we look at these next few months,” he said on Sunday.
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