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Coughlan Implications for health law and beyond

On July 16 1999 the Court of Appeal gave judgment in R v. North and East Devon Health Authority, ex p. Coughlan (The Times, July 20 1999). Whilst the principal importance of this case lies in the fields of health and social services law, the judgment of the Court of Appeal has much wider ramifications

1 September 1999

Coughlan
Implications for health law and beyond

On July 16 1999 the Court of Appeal gave judgment in R v. North and East Devon Health Authority, ex p. Coughlan (The Times, July 20 1999). Whilst the principal importance of this case lies in the fields of health and social services law, the judgment of the Court of Appeal has much wider ramifications.

The nursing care issue

The first and 'critical issue' identified by the Court was 'whether nursing care for a chronically ill patient may lawfully be provided by a local authority as a social service.' This is of crucial practical importance. If the answer to the question is 'yes' then the patient will have to pay. The reason for this lies in the statutory framework. Health care - provided by the NHS - is, of course, free at the point of delivery (s.1(2) National Health Service Act 1977). Social care provided by social services - may be charged for, subject to a means...

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