A Birmingham dentist was yesterday battling at London’s High Court against the Department of Health to maintain the employment rights of dental colleagues across the city.
Even though Dr Eddie Crouch won a Judicial Review against South Birmingham Primary Care Trust (PCT) in February, the Department of Health has appealed against the ruling and the legal wrangle returns to court today.
Lord Justice Collins had ruled in favour of Dr Crouch – that PCT bosses were wrong to insert a clause in the NHS Dental Contract allowing them to terminate the contract without cause or notice. But the Department of Health, which is in charge of the PCT, has waded in to overturn the decision, saying health bosses need such a power.
Dr Crouch, who relied on generous donations from fellow dentists nationwide to help him foot the £70,000 bill for the initial Judicial Review, has had to find another £20,000 of his own money for legal costs towards the appeal.
“This is an important judgment for all dentists and I can’t believe that a Government body would want to have a clause that can allow someone to be terminated at no notice at all,” 47-year-old Dr Crouch, who is an orthodontist in Hall Green, said.
“I am battling for something that is fair and just. Even if I lose and have to pay costs to the Department of Health, it will have been worth it as it will still have brought the Department of Health into a bad light to the dental profession.
“If they don’t change the contract they will lose dentists and the writing will be on the wall for NHS dentistry in Birmingham.
“Few people will want to stay in a system where their contract can be terminated at any point.”
Dr Crouch contested the contract offered to him before the New NHS Dental Contracts in April 2006 but signed it in dispute to ensure he could continue to provide NHS care to his patients.
This case involves all dentists with Personal Dental Service contracts (PDS) which affects about 3,000 dental practices to specialisms like orthodontics.