The case of the Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust v Price has been garnering a great deal of attention as it highlights the support the Courts are willing to give an NHS Foundation Trust when a patient refuses to move on without justification.

Simon Sinnatt represented Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust in successfully obtaining possession of one of its beds in a short- term rehabilitation unit that was only ever intended to be used for up to 14 days.

The Defendant had suffered a broken femur and had undergone a number of operations on her knee. She had been admitted to the rehabilitation unit in August 2015 and was assessed as having the same mobility level as before the surgery, and as being able to live at home, albeit with some help from social services. She had not required a nurse since November 2015 and had declined all therapy.

Though Mr Sinnatt had prepared to face a public law defence relying upon the case of Barnet Primary Care Trust v X [2006] EWHC 787 (QB) 6 March 2006 no such defence was in fact put forward.

HHJ Coe QC sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge granted the possession order and held that the Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust had clearly established the right to possession of the bed and it had attempted to engage with the Defendant but she had refused to communicate with it or the local authority and had refused to provide them with relevant details, for example financial information which might have enabled other care arrangements to be made.

The Defendant had simply refused to leave the facility and from a medical point of view, she had recovered as much as she was going to.

The Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust was awarded £8000 in costs.

Simon Sinnatt will be delivering a talk on how the civil procedure rules may be used to free up hospital beds in appropriate cases.