Medics raise funds in bid to challenge junior doctors' contract


A group of medics are raising funds in the hope they can legally challenge the new contract set to be imposed on junior doctors.

The group, calling itself JustHealth, claims the implications of a new contract would spread further than just doctors, affecting other medical staff including dentists and nurses.

They hope to raise £25,000, through crowdfunding, to allow solicitors to look at what legal routes may be available to them, including a judicial review.

The British Medical Association (BMA) is already seeking a judicial review over imposition of the contract, though Government lawyers have argued this is "misconceived".

But the latest proposed independent legal action would be more wide-reaching, said Dr Francesca Silman.

She told the Press Association: "We all work together, so this would be looking at absolutely everything - dentists would be affected, and we would be looking at how it might affect nurses on the ward." 

She said the group is "sure" it will get the support it needs, adding: "We've had lots of people pledging their support already." 

The group said it is backed by prominent medical staff and patient safety advocates including Dr Phil Hammond, vice-president of the Patient's Association.

Dr Ben White said patient safety is at the heart of the issue.

He said: "Forget the lies and propaganda. The imposition of the junior doctors' contract affects all NHS service users. Staff know that the lack of workforce planning, lack of cost modelling, plus rota and staffing issues, create a perfect storm where patient safety will inevitably be compromised.

"We must challenge this contract in the High Court. A judicial review would consider all relevant factors and hold the Government accountable for decisions it has made. Ultimately, this is about public safety."

There have been a number of strikes by junior doctors over the issue, both as negotiations continued and after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced his intention to impose the new contract from August.

There had been months of talks with the BMA but the sides failed to reach a resolution.

The imposed contract has an increase in basic salary of 13.5%.

Under the new arrangements, Mr Hunt said no doctor working contracted hours would see a pay cut, while night shifts and long shifts would be limited.

 But 7am to 5pm on Saturdays will be regarded as a normal working day.

The major sticking point in talks has been over weekend pay and whether Saturdays should attract extra "unsocial" payments.

Currently, 7pm to 7am Monday to Friday and the whole of Saturday and Sunday attract a premium rate of pay for junior doctors.

The Government wanted the Saturday day shift to be paid at a normal rate in return for a hike in basic pay.

The BMA rejected this and urged Mr Hunt to reduce the offer of basic pay and instead have better premium rates on Saturdays.

JustHealth are using the Crowd Justice donation page