The local infrastructure body Navca is considering a legal challenge against a decision by NHS bosses to cancel a £750,000 grant for voluntary sector services in Enfield, north London.
Kevin Curley, chief executive of Navca, has written to NHS North Central London, a newly-formed cluster of primary care trusts covering Enfield and four other boroughs, requesting documents showing how the decision was made.
NHS NCL plans to cut the £750,000 grant for health and social care services provided by voluntary sector organisations in Enfield from April 2012.
Using the Freedom of Information Act, Curley has requested that the public body provides evidence to show it has taken into account the impact the decision will have on women, disabled and black people. He also requested copies of consultations with service users on the proposals.
Curley told Third Sector he would instruct solicitors to mount a legal challenge against the decision if it emerged NHS NCL had breached its legal duty to conduct a thorough consultation before making the decision.
"This is the first time in the history of NHS support for local voluntary organisations that a local NHS trust has announced plans to cut its entire grants budget for voluntary groups," he said. "Not only are we concerned about the damage this will cause to local voluntary groups, but it also sets an appalling precedent if an NHS trust goes ahead with a draconian decision of this sort."
NHS NCL said voluntary sector organisations in Enfield currently receiving funding had been given six months’ notice of a review of their contract.
Sarah Thompson, NHS NCL interim borough director for Enfield, said: "We realise this is causing uncertainty for the local voluntary sector, but we need to go through the same process that we use with all our providers each financial year. As a commissioner, our role is to monitor the quality of all service providers and to ensure that we regularly review the value of our contracts.
"We will be engaging with voluntary sector organisations over the next few months and GP commissioners are supporting us in this process."