Junior doctor England

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BMA to appeal break monitoring decision

The BMA is to appeal a high court decision that Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has not breached the contracts of junior doctors through the incorrect application of monitoring and banding rules.

The association supported a test claim for a junior doctor, Sarah Hallett, in February who was acting as a representative for 20 others, which sought to confirm whether the trust breached their contracts of employment when monitoring their ability to take breaks required throughout the working day.

Dr Hallett was not seeking payment of monies she believes are due to her but was asking the court to make a series of declarations that would clarify the law surrounding the issue.

The high court dismissed the case on Thursday, save for granting one declaration relating to the operation of pay provisions in the 2002 junior doctors’ contract, in a judgment BMA junior doctors committee chair Jeeves Wijesuriya described as 'disappointing'.

He said: 'It is deeply disappointing that the claim for declarations raised in our test case, which could have wider implications for doctors in training across the country, has been dismissed by the high court.

'By taking legal action, we sought to establish the correct interpretation in law to protect patient safety and the interests and well-being of current and future junior doctors.'

Banding was introduced as a financial disincentive so trusts would not run overly fatiguing or unsafe rotas.

During the February hearing, the BMA argued that the widespread use and incorrect application of monitoring software resulted in trusts failing to pick up issues with working conditions, and potentially weakening the protections afforded to junior doctors in their contracts.

Dr Wijesuriya added: 'Despite today’s ruling, we still have serious concerns regarding the methods employers use to assess monitoring data against banding criteria.

'It is vital that junior doctors have confidence in the safeguards which keep doctors properly rested and safe to work aren't undermined, which is why we will be taking further steps to seek to appeal today’s decision.'

Read more from Gareth Parry-Jones.