Unison has lost its High Court bid to force the government to consult more widely and thoroughly on proposed changes to the health service.
The union had requested a judicial review to try to stop the government going ahead with its reforms, claiming the Department of Health had failed to properly involve patients, staff and other interested parties in the radical plans contained in the health white paper.
The union had argued that the white paper should have consulted on whether the reforms should go ahead, and not just how they should be introduced.
It also claimed senior NHS officials, including chief executive Sir David Nicholson, had told trust managers to begin implementing the reforms - especialy those concerning GP led commissioning - before the end of the consultation process.
Despite praising Unison for raising the issue, Justice Mitting ruled that the court could not place a legal demand on the government to consult on the proposals.
Unison head of health Karen Jennings said: “Today’s decision is disappointing, but the fight for the future of our NHS won’t stop at the door to the court.
“The judicial review has exposed the charade of government claims that it wants to empower patients, the public and staff over how the NHS is run.
“The government said in the white paper – ‘no decision about me, without me’ - but when it comes to influencing the future of our NHS, clearly they think they can do without us all. The secretary of state cannot say that he has consulted on the white paper - the damaging ideas in it are all his own.”