A judicial review into the imposition of the junior doctors’ contract will be held in September, after a campaign group successfully argued the case to be within the public interest in court.
Justice for Health manage to raise £120,000 to cover unanticipated court costs, and successfully convinced a High Court judge that a full, expedited judicial review is a necessity.
The campaign group was established by five junior doctors, including two trainee GPs, and argued that the Health Secretary does not have sufficient power to impose such a contract and its resulting conditions on junior doctors.
Justice for Health has urged self secretary Jeremy Hunt to make crystal clear whether he intends to adopt the new contract via NHS trusts, or actually physically impose it on junior doctors.
Although no explicit date has been set for the case, it is expected to convene in September, with the junior doctors’ contract due to commence one month later.
Health Secretary Hunt indicated his intention to impose the contract on junior doctors earlier this month, after British Medical Association-backed conditions were rejected by an open referendum.
But despite the intentions of the Cabinet Minister, it now seems doubtful that it will be legally possible for the contract to indeed be imposed.
Doubts had previously mulled over whether it would be possible for the case to continue, following financial difficulties for the Justice for Health team.
Department of Health lawyers made what some have considered to be an unreasonable move, requesting additional security costs on Wednesday, just 24 hours before a case management hearing to determine the case was to proceed.
But the group was able to raise the sum in an emergency crowdfunding campaign, eventually securing the legal results that they desired.
Justice for Health commented favourably on the news in a statement, indicating their hopes that the junior doctors contract imposition could be overturned.
“Today we have had a good day in the High Court challenging Mr Hunt’s position on imposition, the judge has heard our initial proposals and granted us a full, expedited judicial review hearing expected in September. The judge remarked that this is an important case that has merit and needs to be heard in the public interest.”
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has previously confirmed that foundation trusts have the technical powers to determine their own staff pay and conditions.
But he told MPs earlier this year that collective bargaining would be key to this process going forward.
“The reality within the NHS is that we have a strong tradition of collective bargaining, so in practice trusts opt to use national contracts. As the secretary of state is entitled to do, I have approved the terms of the national contract.”