NHS staff launch judicial review against junior contract imposition

Authors: Abi Rimmer 

Publication date:  05 Apr 2016


An NHS staff group has launched a judicial review challenging the government’s decision to impose a new contract on junior doctors in England.

The move comes after the BMA launched its own judicial review to challenge the legality of the contract imposition on equality grounds.[1]

Just Health, an NHS staff campaign group, served a “letter of action” on health secretary Jeremy Hunt on Monday 4 April that challenged his decision to impose a new contract.

The group questioned the legality of the health secretary’s decision to impose the contract itself, whether he had any legal power to make the decision, and whether it had any legal effect.

Just Health said that the health secretary had no legal power to impose the junior doctors’ contract on the majority of doctors. The group said that although he could, in theory, impose it on the junior doctors for NHS trusts, he could only do so after consulting relevant parties—which he had not done. “Furthermore, the so-called ‘decision’ to impose is legally flawed, unreasonable, and not rational for a number of reasons and will ultimately not achieve the desired effect,” they said.

Just Health said that the Department of Health’s lawyers had been given seven days, from Monday 4 April, to explain the actions of the health secretary and the law that he relied on.

The group raised £100 000 in four days through the crowd funding website Crowdjustice to finance the judicial review, which is being carried out by the law firm Bindmans LLP.

Just Health said that the contract was unsafe for patients and doctors and at odds with frontline staff priorities of patient care and workforce sustainability. “The vital safeguards that prevent doctors being overworked to the point of exhaustion are being removed,” they said. “This could lead to tired doctors and an increase in mistakes being made as understaffed teams are stretched even thinner.”

Francesca Silman, a GP trainee and a member of Just Health, said, “We hope this legal challenge will hold the government to account for imposing a contract that threatens the future stability of the NHS.”

References

  1. Rimmer A. BMA launches judicial review against contract imposition. 2016. [Link] .

Abi Rimmer BMJ Careers

 arimmer@bmj.com

Cite this as BMJ Careers ; doi: