A recent High Court decision Shah, R (on the application of) v NHSLA, CO/7987/2010 has supported an National Health Service Litigation Authority (NHSLA) decision which found that a PCT was entitled to terminate its GMS contract with the claimant, a doctor accused of being unfit to practise by virtue of his misconduct.
Dr Hasmukhlal Himatlal Shah, a sole practitioner (the claimant) had a General Medical Services contract with South East Essex Primary Care Trust (PCT). A Fitness to Practise Panel (FTPP) of the GMC considered various allegations of misconduct against him and determined that his fitness to practice was impaired. He was suspended from the medical register for 12 months.
The PCT subsequently considered their contractual position and decided that the findings of the GMC demonstrated that the claimant was unsuitable to remain as a GMS contractor and gave notice of their intention to terminate his contract.
The claimant initiated the NHS dispute resolution procedure in his contract with the dispute being heard by the Family Health Service Appeals Unit (FHSAU). The FHSAU concluded that the PCT was entitled to terminate the contract.
The claimant subsequently brought proceedings for judicial review seeking to quash the decision of the NHSLA (FHSAU).
This judgment highlighted the following key points:
- It was arguable that decisions of the NHSLA (FHSAU) are subject to judicial review, but no final view was offered by the judge.
- The contractual requirement under Clause 582 of the GMS contract, which requires a PCT to consult with their LMC prior to termination of the contract, does not require a PCT to be influenced by any consultation which might have taken place. Clause 592 does not stipulate the nature or purpose of the consultation, only the need to draw matters to the attention of the LMC.
- The fact that a doctor is suspended by a FTPP panel must be a relevant factor in determining whether a contract with the PCT should be terminated because it affects his ability to perform services under the contract.