We, the public, patients and professionals are challenging the reckless imposition of dangerous contracts in the NHS, which endanger the lives of patients and staff.
Update 20 July 2016: we have started a new round of fundraising. Please support us here.
We are asking for funding to take an independent legal action started by doctors but ultimately involving all interested parties. We are challenging the imposition of an unplanned and dangerous contract which will affect patient wellbeing and safety.
The NHS is on the brink of collapse and under further attack with this imposition.
We are already perilously short of doctors and nurses in the NHS.
We the public, patients and staff refuse to compromise safety for politics.
WHY THIS MATTERS TO YOU
This is about the future of your health service and your country.
The imminent imposition of dangerous contracts affects everybody who works for or uses the NHS. Its immediate and lasting impact reaches further than doctors; it will have a knock on effect on all NHS staff, patients and their families.
The NHS is already understaffed. The government want a new contract to fulfil their manifesto pledge of a "7-Day" NHS, but they have failed to acknowledge the need for the necessary extra staffing and resources required to make their changes safe. They have not planned or prepared for the devastating consequences. As a result there will be serious gaps in the care provided to patients. Staff will find themselves under even more pressure, their mental and physical health will be impacted. This imposed contract will endanger all lives in the NHS.
WHAT WE ARE DOING
Judicial review is a legal process which allows the high court to investigate issues and decide whether decisions made by the Secretary of State for Health, and employers, are reasonable and have the consequences that are intended.
Talks between the BMA, NHS Employers and the Health Secretary have broken down and a new contract is due to be enforced by the government from August 2016. The Health Secretary has under pressure said an Equality Impact Assessment will be carried out and published this month but we are not confident this will result in any significant change.
We know these are only the start of widespread changes to the health service that will affect all staff working in the NHS. It is junior doctors today and other NHS staff tomorrow. We cannot stand by without a proper review of the impact on patient safety by such actions.
The only avenue left to get to the bottom of the issues surrounding the lack of planning prior to the imposition of the dangerous doctors’ contracts is to ask for the High Court to review the decision making process and decision to impose contracts.
Bindmans LLP, legendary in the area of judicial review has agreed to act for us to bring this claim. It is our hope of a just resolution. At the moment nobody is listening to genuine serious safety concerns. We refuse to be bullied into submission further.
Morale is affected and there are many doctors and other who may leave the NHS if the working conditions are not reasonable and if we cannot fulfil our commitment to our service users – patients come first.
HOW YOUR CONTRIBUTION WILL HELP
This funding will enable our lawyers to study the documents about years of negotiations, research whether patient safety will be affected, and test the arguments put by the employers and Health Secretary to consider whether the process has been fair and reasonable and the result end would be justified.
At this stage we don’t know what the final costs may be. This will depend on how strongly the issues are disputed, whether other parties decide to support our challenge, how lengthy and complex the research will be, how many hearings will be needed and how long the final hearing is. The case has to be taken in stages and our lawyers will keep under review whether the case has good prospects. We may need to come back to you for further support, but if we do, we will explain why and what is needed. We will be transparent where our employers and the Health secretary has not been.Things have reached an impasse and there is no other obvious way out of this deadlock. An independent review by judges looking at the dispute calmly with all the evidence before them is best placed to judge the fairness of our respective positions.
Thank you, we really appreciate your support!
About the claimant
We are a group of doctors based in London who between us have almost 30 years of experience working in the NHS. We are committed to our patients' well-being and making the NHS the best it can be. We want it to remain safe for generations to come. Dr Ben White is a 33 year old Medical Registrar. "I’ll be responsible for looking after you and your family if you arrive via A&E and are very unwell. I have a track record of campaigning for patients, the NHS and its staff. I’m so pleased to be a part of this legal action which gives us the opportunity to invest in a robust process to test the government's plans which I think stand to put patient and staff safety in jeopardy". Dr Francesca Silman works as a General Practice Registrar. "I am passionate about providing high quality care to my patients. The NHS has been vital in looking after my family - from cancer, dementia, childbirth and autoimmune disease, numerous members of my family have been well looked after through the world class service the NHS provides. We have to ensure that the NHS works for patients, and not for political will". Dr Marie McVeigh is specialising in Obstetrics & Gynaecology. "As a child I lived in a country without a national health service. I grew up seeing the effects of health inequality. From the age of 12 I wanted to be a doctor and I wanted to work in the NHS, where every patient gets the care they need. I believe fundamentally in the principle of equality. I want every patient I treat to be safe in our NHS and every colleague to be supported. I fear this contract is dangerous, it deeply undermines and destabilises the foundations of our NHS." Dr Nadia Masood works as an Anaesthetics Registrar. "I look after some of the sickest patients in the hospital, working hard to get them well again so they can go home to their families. I know how important that is, my dad successfully recovered from urgent open-heart surgery 10 years ago, and my mum has undergone life-saving cancer treatment more recently. Thanks to the NHS they are still with me today". Dr Amar Mashru is an A&E Doctor in South London. “I face the frontline consequences of understaffing and underfunding in the NHS every single day as our A&E department wait times get longer and our patients don’t get the care that they need when they need it. The government will never meet these consequences face to face as they increasingly choose to prioritise cost over quality. It is time to call them to account for the choices they make about how we can be looked after when we are brought through the doors of an Emergency Department. When you are at your sickest and most vulnerable my colleagues and I just want to be able to make you feel better.” We welcome people to put themselves forwards as claimants also. Please email our legal representative on S.Chahal@bindmans.com for further details on how to do this.
- The government is imposing a dangerous contract in August 2016. - We are challenging this imposition through an independent judicial process. - If this contract is imposed, staff working conditions in the NHS could become unsafe and harmful to patients. Staff will become less available than before, and will be forced to work under even more stressful conditions, which will compromise the care you receive. THE NHS SHOULD - Work effectively for patients - Be safe for patients and those who care for them - Provide an excellent, world class service WHAT YOU CAN DO: - Donate! - Send this link to others to donate - Tweet with a photo using #JustHealth to say that you have donated and support this action
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You've done it! £150,000 in 4 days!
We are so thrilled to write to you today confirming you have helped us reach our emergency fundraising target of £150,000.
Thank you so much for your donations, you have broken our previous records and smashed the August 16th deadline.
We are truly overwhelmed by your support!
We are now in a position where we can to proceed with preparing for our Judicial Review hearing, which will be in September (date to be confirmed by the courts).
As we explained last week, we must now choose between proceeding with our original grounds only or including an extended argument. Thanks to your support, there will be no financial barrier to making this decision and we can focus purely on the best legal advice we can get.
Once we have made our decision we will publish this on our website.
You can read the full ‘Statement of Facts & Grounds’ here: www.justiceforhealth.co.uk.
Thank you once again for your support, without which we could not have gotten this far.
We will continue to keep you updated every step of the way.
Marie, Ben, Amar, Nadia and Fran
Staying the case
Justice for Health have today made the decision to temporarily suspend legal action. Our case will be 'on hold' whilst we await the new contract terms & conditions to be published. We are also waiting for the results of the referendum of junior doctors and the equality and safety assessments following this new offer.
We still believe that Mr Hunt acted unlawfully in making the decision to impose a contract, when he announced this on 11th February 2016.
Justice for Health is committed to a contract which is lawful, just and puts staff & patient safety first. We do not believe that a settlement which negatively impacts the wider NHS could ever be in the best interests of the British Public. If we find ourselves in this situation again after the contract referendum, we are ready to resume our legal action immediately.
We will continue to use every resource at our disposal to challenge decisions and actions we believe are harmful to patients and staff.
Please visit our website for further details and explanations.
Statement from our lawyer, Saimo Chahal QC:
"We have today agreed to stay the Judicial Review proceedings to await the publication of the 3rd and latest contract (in as many months). This is to be issued on 31st May and then we await the outcome of the referendum on this contract and whether it is acceptable to junior doctors.
We will have a case management hearing in the 3rd week of July in the High Court to review how best to proceed. There is this pause as political events have intervened. However, this is not the end of the fight for justice by these brave doctors."
JOIN OUR NEW MAILING LIST
Thank you so much, once again, for you generosity and support so far.
At the moment we have raised all the funds we need and now have to wait for further updates from our legal team.
In the meantime, we would like you to join our mailing list so that we can keep you up to date when the case progresses and inform you if we have any further fundraising to do at a later stage!
More updates to come soon, many thanks again!
Marie, Ben, Nadia, Fran and Amar
- Justice for Health team
We are issuing proceedings shortly!
Your generosity and support has allowed us to substantially fund our legal and administration fees, thank you so much!
We promised you transparency and are very pleased to announce that our case will be issued in the High Court on Monday 18th April. We will unfortunately need to provide security towards the Secretary of State’s costs in the unlikely event that we lose. We are forced by the SoS to pay this money upfront within the next few days as we are litigating as a company.
We will be refreshing this fundraising page to start a new round of fundraising to raise the additional compulsory sum of £33,000. This will fund both the costs protection and the fundraising administration fees. Any excess funds raised in our stretch target will be deployed towards ongoing legal costs. If we need to ask for further support we will explain why and what is needed. We will be transparent at all times.
We are confident that our action will show that the Secretary of State for Health (SoS) does not have power to impose this unplanned and dangerous contract that will affect patient wellbeing and safety.
We hope you will continue to donate and show us your support as brilliantly as you have done so far.
Full Letter before Action now visible on our new website!
Thank you for your donations. We are grateful and encouraged by your support during this difficult time for all in the NHS.
We are pleased to share, on our new website, OUR FULL 24 PAGE LETTER BEFORE ACTION sent to the Secretary of State for Health on 4th April 2016.
We wrote to the SoS on 4th April 2016 asking for a reply by 4pm today, the 11th April 2016. This letter challenges the legality of the ‘decision’ by the SoS to impose the junior doctors’ contract.
Here is a summary of our argument:
· The decision to impose is unlawful based on irrationality as per the reasons set out in the letter.
· The SoS has no legal power to take decisions about what contractual terms should be offered to junior doctors by Foundation Trusts, local authority or primary care employers of junior doctors.
· The SoS is limited to strategic, hands off role, mediated through the mandate to NHS England. Control over an individual junior doctor’s contract (or anyone else’s contract) is not included in this. The law restricting the SoS’s role remains in place.
· The SoS has a power to issue directions (and only directions) to require NHS Trusts to employ anyone on specific terms but (a) he has not made any such directions, and (b) he has to go through a consultation process before he could issue any direction. It makes little sense to do this in relation to NHS Trust employees, as they are a minority of all doctors.
We expect a response by 4pm today. We are prepared to issue the application to court for a judicial review in the coming week. We aim for a court hearing as soon as possible to halt some Trusts implementing the contract.
As the case progresses through each stage you will notice our stretch target increasing to cover ongoing costs. We will continue to update you on our progress as it occurs.
Please continue to support.
We are happy to introduce our latest addition to the Just Health team!
Dr Amar Mashru is an A&E Doctor in South London.
“I face the frontline consequences of understaffing and underfunding in the NHS every single day as our A&E department wait times get longer and our patients don’t get the care that they need when they need it. The government will never meet these consequences face to face as they increasingly choose to prioritise cost over quality. It is time to call them to account for the choices they make about how we can be looked after when we are brought through the doors of an Emergency Department. When you are at your sickest and most vulnerable my colleagues and I just want to be able to make you feel better.”
Letter before Action Served!
We are excited to announce that our lawyers at Bindsmans LLP, headed by partner Saimo Chahal QC (Hon), have been working around the clock building the case for a legal challenge and today we are serving a Letter before Action on our Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
The challenge is based on the following grounds:
• The Secretary of State has no legal power to impose the junior doctors contract on the majority of doctors at all.
• Though he could in theory impose it on the group working for NHS Trusts, a small proportion of the workforce, he can only do so after consulting with relevant parties – which he has not done.
• Furthermore, 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.
The Department of Health’s lawyers have been given 7 days to explain the actions of the Health Secretary and the law he relied on when making the misleading statements to Parliament and the British public.
The BMA launched their own Judicial Review action last Thursday to challenge whether the Government has acted lawfully on equality grounds. Our independent action challenges the legality of the Health Secretary's decision to impose the contract itself; whether he has any legal power to make the decision and whether it has any legal effect. Both legal cases complement each other in holding the Government to account on its strategies for decision making on NHS policy and patient care.
We await the response from the Department of Health and will update you again within the next few weeks!
In the meantime we need your ongoing donations and support for future legal costs as we progress further in our battle for a safer NHS.
Your generosity has been overwhelming, thank you! Our legal team at Bindmans, headed by Saimo Chahal QC (Hon), are now working hard on all the pre-court work (Stage 1), looking at all angles for the legal challenge. They are getting statements, putting evidence together, assembling the team and bringing counsel on board to consider the legal grounds for the challenge. We still need to consider future costs to cover the stages further down the line which will include hearings and cost protection applications against the well resourced Health Secretary and employers. We need your continued support to help us get the best legal representation to fight a complex, difficult battle where there is so much at stake for us all
Initial Target Reached!
Thanks to your generosity we have reached our first milestone and are able to begin legal investigations. We have a long road ahead and our next target is to raise further funds so that we can cover the majority of the expected ongoing costs. Thank you for your support and please continue to donate and share this link with others.
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