Intended for healthcare professionals


Junior doctors’ dispute leaves big questions about state of NHS

BMJ 2016; 355 doi: (Published 04 October 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i5342
  1. Neena Modi, professor of neonatal medicine
  1. Imperial College London, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Campus, London SW10 9NH, UK
  1. n.modi{at}

Time for acknowledgment of the deep malaise around medical training and honest public debate on the problems with the health service

Last week, a High Court rejected arguments over the legality of the actions of the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, in connection with a new contract for doctors in training.1 The claims, brought by five junior doctors in England through Justice for Health, a group resourced by public crowdfunding, were threefold: the health secretary had no lawful power to impose a contract; his decision was made in a manner so opaque and confused that it violated the principles of transparency and good administration; and his decision was irrational and based on inadequate evidence.2

In a rather surprising turn of events, the action clarified that, in the words of counsel for the claimants, “Mr Hunt is not imposing a contract on junior doctors; he never was; he did not suggest he was; he never thought anyone thought otherwise.” Mr Justice Green agreed that the health secretary’s statement to parliament on 6 July 2016 did lead the …

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