From The Guardian:
Jeremy Hunt is facing high court legal action over claims he broke the law and acted “irrationally” by imposing a new contract on NHS junior doctors when he had no power to do so.
Five junior doctors are challenging the health secretary’s decision, which they say and was done for political purposes and amounts to him seeking to exercise an unlawful degree of control over the health service.
Their lawsuit is an attempt to stop Hunt acting on his threat to force all trainee medics to work under onerous new terms and conditions from August to help deliver the Conservatives’ promise of 24/7 NHS by 2020.
They claim Hunt is not entitled to decide the terms and conditions under which England’s 45,000 junior doctors work or to compel hospital trusts to enforce the new contract.
More than 5,000 operations have been cancelled this week because of the strike by doctors affected – all those below consultant level – on Wednesday and Thursday, the fourth walkout since January as part of a campaign against the contract.
In a 24-page legal “letter before claim” sent to Hunt, the quintet claim: “To have taken a decision of such consequence, in the face of such opposition and escalating industrial action, and in the absence of support from leaders in the NHS, in under 24 hours and without consultation, bespeaks of a plainly irrational approach that failed to take account of the ramifications it was likely to involve.”
The challenge is being undertaken by Justice for Health, a company set up by the five junior doctors: Ben White, Francesca Silman, Marie McVeigh, Nadia Masood and Amar Mashru.
The quintet have given Hunt until Monday to respond. If he fails to do so, they will seek a high court judicial review of the legality of his announcement in parliament in February that he had decided to impose the contract because there was no hope of a negotiated solution to the long-running dispute with the British Medical Association.
In a legal appeal that is being crowdfunded, the five junior doctors allege that “contrary to the impression given by his statement of 11 February 2016, his ‘decision’ was purely of ‘political’ effect and had no legitimate legal effect whatsoever”.