The GPs claim that NHS Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale discriminated against them on the grounds of race and age. Initially their allegations went unanswered because the PCT argued they were not employees.
But in a pre-hearing, the PCT accepted it is a qualifying body under the terms of the Race Relations Act. This means an employment tribunal can hear the complaints.
‘Anyone under the authority of a qualifying body can take a claim to tribunal for harassment,' said Saimah Malik, diversity officer and director of the charity Protection of Human Rights in Public Law, representing the GPs.
‘The PCT is a qualifying body because it determines who goes onto the performers' list and who does not.' PCTs' power to award GP contracts is also relevant, she said.
‘There is a real possibility that the floodgates will be opened,' Ms Malik said.
Lesley Mort, executive director of integrated commissioning at NHS Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale, said: ‘We are co-operating with legal proceedings relating to this case and will support a fair and transparent hearing.'
- Read the latest edition of GP newspaper dated 21 May for the full story.