Legal duties for service change: a guide

This is an introductory guide to legal obligations for NHS service change programmes in England. It can be costly and time-consuming when NHS bodies do not act on these obligations. Sometimes legal challenges can stop proposed service changes being implemented altogether. NHS colleagues involved in service change programmes say1 they want more support to help them understand these requirements better. This guide has been written for that purpose.

This guide describes the current legal framework and the likely steps required to discharge legal duties when making changes to services. It does not set out an exhaustive list of requirements or offer guidance on how individual processes should be run. It does not replace the need for local legal advice. Each service change programme is different. Programme leaders should refer to further reading material and seek appropriate specialist legal input where necessary.