Junior doctors and high court

Junior doctors group Justice for Health went to the High Court on the 19th and 20th September to challenge the new junior doctor contract and on the 28th September, a verdict was reached.

Mr Justice Green said Trusts had the freedom as employers to decide whether they did force the contract on doctors. The new terms and conditions are due to start being rolled out in October.

Justice for Health argued the contract was ‘unsafe and unsustainable’ and that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt did not have the power to impose it. However, Mr Green has rejected claims that the Health Secretary exceeded his powers by enforcing the new contract.

Chris Hopson, Chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents NHS Trusts, said: “Junior doctors have raised a number of legitimate concerns that still need to be addressed and NHS Trusts will be working hard with their junior doctors to do so. In particular, those issues that are within the remit of the contract – for example the introduction of a new guardian role to each Trust – need to be implemented consistently.

“As for suggestions that individual Trusts have a choice as to whether to introduce the new contract or not, NHS Trusts tell us that they believe a single national contract offers a consistent approach that is in the best interests of patients and the wider NHS workforce. This is also the view of the NHS arm’s-length bodies.”

The BMA junior doctors’ committee chair Dr Ellen McCourt said: “Today’s result should not be viewed as a win for the government, this ruling will do nothing to address the fact that morale among junior doctors is at an all-time low. Nor will it quell junior doctors’ concerns about the imminent introduction of a flawed contract they have rejected, or the deep sense of anger and mistrust that has built up towards the government over the last year.”

Junior doctors have conducted six strikes over the contract so far – however a series of five-day strikes running up to Christmas have been called off over concerns of patient safety.

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