Junior doctors launch legal proceedings over imposed contract

A group of junior doctors has launched legal proceedings against health secretary Jeremy Hunt for imposing the new junior doctors' contract after raising over £100,000 through crowd funding.

Lawyers acting for the Justice for Health group have today served Mr Hunt with a ‘letter before action’, arguing that the health secretary has no legal power to impose the junior doctors contract on the majority of doctors.

The challenge by lawyers Bindmans LLP is based on three main points:

  • The health secretary has no legal power to impose the junior doctors contract on the majority of doctors
  • Though he could, in theory, impose it on the group working for NHS trusts, he can only do so after consulting with relevant parties – which he has not done.
  • 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.

Bindmans has given DH lawyers seven days to explain the action of the health secretary and the law he relied on when making statements to parliament and the public about the contract imposition.

This is the second judicial review the government faces over the junior doctors’ contract. The BMA formally launched its own judicial review last week.

The Justice for Health group initially set out to raise £25,000 through crowd funding to kick start the legal challenge over the contract. The group has now raised £117,000 and is aiming to reach £150,000 to cover the legal costs. Almost 4,000 people have donated to the cause.

Junior doctors are due to strike for 48 hours from 8am on Wednesday, during which time they will still provide emergency care. Further action between 8am and 5pm on Tuesday 26 and Wednesday 27 April will see a full withdrawal of labour, including emergency care.

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Photo: Alexander Christie

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