1. ITV Report

Medics raise funds to challenge junior doctors' contract in court

The junior doctors' contract which is being imposed by the health secretary Jeremy Hunt is facing a challenge in the courts.

A group called JustHealth is raising funds for a judicial review on the basis that the contract will "create a perfect storm" and jeopardise patient safety.

Dr Francesca Silman of (left to right) Dr Nadia Masood, Dr Marie McVeigh, Dr Francesca Silman and Dr Ben White Credit: Alexander Christie/PA

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

Legal action

They are aiming to raise £25,000 through crowdfunding to pay for solicitors to look at the case.

The British Medical Association (BMA) is already seeking a judicial review over imposition of the contract.

But Dr Francesca Silman, who is part of the group, says their legal action would be more wide-reaching.

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

"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.

– Dr Ben White

Negotiation breakdown

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.

Months of talks with the BMA failed to reach a resolution.

There have been a number of strikes by junior doctors Credit: PA

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.