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It is indeed mind boggling as to why the BMA as a doctors' trade union agreed with the Department of Health(DoH) to deprive "doctors of the longstanding right to have a lawyer act for them at a disciplinary hearing".Whilst acknowledging(at para.34) that "The BMA was reluctant to give up the doctors' previous rights",the Court of Appeal went on to say, "There appears to have been some 'horse-trading' or 'give and take' in respect of rights of representation and the other issues and in due course agreement was reached on a form of words".Though it has taken a disproportionately long time to reject a perverse policy of the DoH, many doctors could breath a sigh of relief that a fundamental right to be formally represented has now been restored.
In relation to Article 6,ECHR,the Appeal Court concluded(para.68),"In my view, in circumstances of this kind, it should imply such a right because the doctor is facing what is in effect a criminal charge, although it is being dealt with by disciplinary proceedings. The issues are virtually the same and, although the consequences of a finding of guilt cannot be the deprivation of liberty, they can be very serious".
Judges overturn ruling that doctors in NHS disciplinary hearings cannot have lawyer
BMJ 2009; 339: b3062.