Doctors from Justice for Health walk past supporters outside the Royal Courts of Justice [Image: Leon Neal/Getty Images].

Doctors from Justice for Health walk past supporters outside the Royal Courts of Justice [Image: Leon Neal/Getty Images].

Headlines have been claiming that the junior doctors of Justice for Health have lost the judicial review of Jeremy Hunt’s new contract for them – but these are based on a misunderstanding of the case.

In order to avoid a judgement against Mr Hunt, lawyers for the Department of Health had to admit that the Health secretary had no powers to “impose” the controversial and dangerous contract; he could only encourage employers to introduce it.

This is not what Mr Hunt has been claiming, of course, and represents a huge amount of backtracking by the Conservative Government.

Justice for Health says this means junior doctors are free not to sign the contract and to demand further negotiations.

With the contract due to be phased into operation from next week, it seems the next move is Mr Hunt’s.

If he insists on a contract that is unsafe for patients being signed by doctors who have sworn an oath to protect their safety, how many will sign?

Junior doctors have lost a judicial review challenging the legality of a controversial new contract, which is now set to be introduced next week.

In a judgment published on Wednesday, Mr Justice Green rejected arguments presented at the high court by five junior doctors that the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, had exceeded his powers.

The decision means that the long-running impasse over the contract remains. The junior doctors, who formed the group Justice for Health, claimed Green’s finding that Hunt was not imposing the contract, but merely encouraging employers to introduce it, was a victory for them.

Their interpretation was that it meant medics were free not to sign it and opened the door to negotiations with the NHS nationally or at trust level, although such a prospect appears unlikely.

Source: Junior doctors fail in high court challenge of new contract’s legality | Society | The Guardian


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