Misconduct charges against doctors are dealt with in accordance with “maintaining high professional standards in the modern NHS” but in recent years there have been a number of attempts by doctors to establish greater legal protections, through arguments based on Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Article 6 provides that, in determining civil rights or obligations or criminal charges, everyone is entitled to a "fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal".
In the case of Puri v Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Mr Puri applied for judicial review of a decision to dismiss him for misconduct. He argued that the disciplinary panel did not comply with Article 6 as it had been largely comprised of individuals from the employer trust, who were not independent and impartial within the meaning of Article 6.
However, the High Court found that Article 6 was not engaged as the outcome of the disciplinary proceedings only affected the loss of a specific job and would not deprive Mr Puri of the right to practise his profession. The High Court agreed with the test suggested in Kulkarni v Milton Keynes Hospital Foundation NHS Trust and looked at whether the outcome of the disciplinary proceedings would have a "substantial influence or effect" on Mr Puri's right to practice medicine. The court held that this was not the case here, Article 6 was not engaged and therefore Mr Puri's application for judicial review of his dismissal was rejected.
The court also held that, in any event, the disciplinary panel would have been compliant with Article 6 and there was no need for all, or even a majority, of the members of the panel to come from outside the trust.