The trade union body the British Medical Association says it is set to launch a judicial review into the government’s decision to impose a new contract on junior doctors from August 2016, as it announced that more strikes are planned.
Junior doctors are planning further industrial action over three 48-hour periods, providing emergency care only on 9–11 March, 6–8 April and 26–28 April 2016.
The BMA thinks the government did not give “due regard” to equalities issues by undertaking an “equality impact assessment” (EIA), as set out in the Equality Act 2010, before making the decision to impose the contract.
“The government has failed to provide evidence of an EIA having been conducted ahead of its decision,” says the BMA.
Johann Malawana, chair of the BMA junior doctor committee, says: “Imposing this contract will seriously undermine the ability of the NHS to recruit and retain junior doctors in areas of medicine with the most unsocial hours, where there are already staffing shortages. This will have a significant impact on areas such as emergency medicine, maternity care and paediatrics, to name but a few.” He says the government can avert the strike action by restarting talks with the BMA.
Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, says the planned industrial action is “unnecessary”.
“I strongly believe that the final contract is safe, fair and reasonable,” he says. “For the sake of the NHS and patients I urge all junior doctors to take a look at the contract in detail before taking part in any future action.”