Camden Primary Care Trust could be facing a High Court battle over a seemingly controversial decision to award a contract for a new GP-lead health centre to a private firm before the close of a consultation period.

According to media reports, legal firm Leigh Day & Co has filed an application for a judicial review in the High Court on behalf of Camden resident and former labour councillor Bob Austin, who argues that a decision was made over who would take on the contract without taking into account the views of patients, many of whom fear that the new centre will squeeze out existing, smaller practices in the area.

In addition, while the consultation period regarding the plans for the new GP centre was not due to close until October 31, the Trust reportedly revealed at the end of July that private concern Care UK had won the contract, according to Pulse magazine.

“The consultation has been a sham from start to finish,” Candy Udwin, chairman of anti-privatisation campaign group Camden Keep Our NHS Public, told the media, adding: “The PCT have chosen the site, awarded the contract and started advertising for staff before the consultation has even closed”.

Camden PCT is arguing that it does not need public approval to move forward with its plans, but has still reportedly put the multi-million-pound project on hold after lawyers filed the challenge, which claims the Trust has failed in its “legal duty” to consult patients and which, if successful, could become a landmark case opening the door for a louder patient voice in such decisions, according to the Camden New Journal.

Nevertheless, the publication quotes NHS Camden chief executive Dr Mark Atkinson as saying that if a legal case is lodged in the High Court, the trust will “rigorously defend Camden patients’ rights to the expansion of local GP services, which the GP-led health centre offers”.