Stand and Capsticks draft new service change legal guide for NHS England and Improvement 

At Stand we love our work. It’s really satisfying to know our efforts mean the voices of the public are heard and better informed decisions are made. We love learning from others and sharing our learning with clients, colleagues and our wider networks through our blog and resources.


So it was a real privilege to be commissioned by NHS England and Improvement (NHSEI) as expert practitioners to write a short guide to the legal requirements for making changes to NHS services in England. And we’re beyond delighted that NHSEI has published the guide to help service change programme managers plan the steps they need to take to meet the statutory and public law duties.

The commission came in response to research that told NHSEI that service change leaders wanted clearer information about which legal requirements applied when, so change programme managers could plan more effectively to meet those requirements.


Working with Peter Edwards from Capsticks for specialist legal input, we split the guide into six easy to understand sections. The sections align to the steps in the service change process model NHSEI describes in its service change and assurance guidance. Each section sets out the points from legislation and previous legal judgments that service change programmes must consider and address as they progress from exploring service change possibilities to working up defined change proposals  to making decisions about which changes to implement. Of course patient and public involvement features heavily and we’ve included useful sections on working with local authority scrutiny and consulting the public when needed.


Stand director, Caroline Latta said, “We’re delighted to have been commissioned by the NHSEI national team to create what we believe will be a helpful document for NHS transformation leads as it brings together for the first time the legal requirements for NHS service change.

We’ve brought our years of practitioner experience to the drafting and are pleased to share what we’ve learned in dozens of NHS service reconfigurations, including judicial reviews in the high court and the court of appeal as well as referrals to the Secretary of state for Health and Social Care and subsequent reviews by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel.”


Peter Edwards, of Capsticks said: “Based on my work nationwide with service change programmes I’m confident that this guide will be a welcome addition to the resources available to programme managers. It will help them to understand and comply with the relevant legal duties, which in turn aids better decision-making, as well as reducing the risk of legal challenges. Ultimately it will support the important work going on throughout the NHS to configure health and care services to best meet the needs of patients.”

Legal duties for service change: a guide is published by NHS England and Improvement as part of a suite of resources available on its FutureNHS collaboration Platform. If you don’t have access to that, we’ve put a copy in the resources section on this website (remember to check NHS  England and Improvement sources for updates).

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