With the number of patients being seen by NHS dentists falling by 4,000 a day, you could be forgiven for thinking that having access to a good dentist was something to be protected.
So why was there a clause in the controversial NHS Dental Contract stating that South Birmingham Primary Care Trust had the right to terminate dental contracts without cause or notice?
One Birmingham dentist was so incensed by his employment contract in April 2006 that he embarked on a two-year fight through the courts to challenge it.
Dr Eddie Crouch is today celebrating a landmark victory against the Government after it failed to overturn a court ruling which protects the employment rights of dentists across the country.
The Hall Green orthodontist took his contract grievance against South Birmingham PCT to a judicial review in February and won. But Dr Crouch wasn’t just fighting for himself, he was fighting for the rights of 3,000 dental practices who have Personal Dental Services contracts.
And when the might of the Department of Health waded in to appeal Mr Justice Collins’ ruling in February, Dr Crouch did not back down.
The Department of Health’s defeat at the Court of Appeal yesterday proves just how important Dr Crouch’s campaign was in ensuring dentists nationwide have the right to a fairer contract. But he himself acknowledges that he could not have done it alone.
His £70,000 legal bill was generously footed by friends and colleagues throughout the profession, and even from people he had never met.
This victory against the Government underscores the impact one individual can have on the working rights of others.
As Dr Crouch so aptly put it: “If you believe that you are right, you can win.”