Thousands of Yorkshire junior doctors are preparing to go on strike tomorrow – hours after it emerged the Health Secretary is facing a second legal challenge over a new contract.
NHS campaign group Just Health raised £100,000 through crowdfunding to bankroll the proceedings that will argue that Jeremy Hunt has no legal right to force the new contract on the majority of juniors.
Yesterday a letter before action – usually the first step in taking disputes to court – was delivered to Mr Hunt, who is also facing a legal challenge from the British Medical Association (BMA) over the contract.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has also warned that the new contract should not “unlawfully indirectly discriminate” after Government analysis suggested women were “disproportionately” affected by some features.
Juniors will stage a 48-hour ‘emergency care only’ walk-out, picketing at every major hospital in Yorkshire, from Wednesday at 8am ahead of a “full withdrawal of labour” for nine hours on both April 26 and 27. The Department of Health described plans for a full strike as “desperate and irresponsible”.
Government has been further criticised by the BMA’s GP committee, which has released the results of a survey that found more than eight out of 10 GP surgeries in Yorkshire were “struggling” to find locum, or temporary, cover for shifts amid a national GP shortage.
Dr Richard Vautrey, a Meanwood GP and the BMA’s GP committee deputy chair, said areas like south Leeds, Rotherham, Hull and Bradford are struggling more than most to recruit.
He said: “It means they can’t find enough appointments to meet the needs of patients.”