Judge throws out request for judicial review into Cardiff cancer hospital
Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter
A judge has thrown out a request for a judicial review into the new Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff.
Campaigners had asked the High Court to review the Welsh Government’s decision in March to approve the outline business case for the planned hospital.
They claimed there were several legal issues with that decision, including problems with the environmental impact and arguments around the clinical model.
But on September 21 a judge dismissed the application for a judicial review, and ordered the claimant and Save the Northern Meadows campaigner Catherine Lewis to pay £46,182.
In applying for the review, Ms Lewis said the Welsh Government failed to properly consider building it at the University Hospital of Wales (UHW), and would be in breach of a legal duty to maintain and enhance biodiversity by building at the Northern Meadows.
But the judge Sir Ross Cranston dismissed these claims, saying the Nuffield Trust report into Velindre, published last November, took into account a range of views on co-locating a new hospital at UHW; and said ecology was a planning matter and not part of the business case.
The judge ordered Ms Lewis to pay £10,328.50 in legal costs to the Welsh Government and £35,853.60 to Velindre University NHS Trust. Ms Lewis, a cancer patient at Velindre, said these costs were excessive and claimed she felt bullied.
She said: “I am still unable to work to full capacity due to the debilitating effects of cancer treatment and like many other self-employed people during these difficult times, I rely on working tax credit and assistance with housing costs.
“I feel like I am being bullied and intimidated by Velindre and the Welsh Government to drop the case, by scaring me with this ridiculously high level of costs they are trying to claim from me, at this very early stage in the case.”
The judgement for fees to be paid was made by the court, not the Welsh Government or Velindre.
Her lawyers have now appealed against the refusal. Save the Northern Meadows had previously raised more than £23,000 through crowdfunding to apply for the judicial review.
Enabling works to prepare the site for construction are expected to begin in the next few weeks, with building work on the hospital itself scheduled to begin in March 2023. The new Velindre Cancer Centre is due to open in summer 2025.
Earlier this month a leaked letter revealed how an advisory board of cancer experts warned against building the new Velindre hospital at the Northern Meadows. The letter argued building a standalone site would be worse for patients and research compared to building the new hospital next to a large general hospital like UHW.
But the Nuffield report, a major inquiry held last year into the plans, said building at UHW could delay the new cancer hospital for several years, while the need for the new hospital is urgent.
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We are unable to comment on ongoing cases.”
A Velindre spokesperson said: “We are committed to delivering excellent non-surgical tertiary cancer services for the population of south-east Wales. It would be inappropriate to comment on a live legal case”.