...thereby potentially strengthening the position of GPs to demand payment for such work.
In June, the High Court issued its judgment in the case of R (British Medical Association) v Northamptonshire County Council and others  EWHC 1664 (Admin). The BMA had sought to challenge the lawfulness of a safeguarding plan produced by Northamptonshire County Council, the Chief Constable of Northamptonshire and the two local CCGs, on the basis that it failed to specify a budget for payment to GPs for their input (safeguarding reports and attendance at safeguarding conferences). The BMA stated that its objective was to secure a ruling that GPs should be paid for their input.
The judicial review was dismissed and the substantive content of the judgment is of limited interest. However, Justice Swift made a number of obiter comments which make for interesting reading and arguably strengthen the position of GPs to demand payment for safeguarding work. Obiter comments are comments made by a judge 'in passing', and which are not essential to the Court's decision. They do not create a binding precedent but they are persuasive.
In his obiter comments, Justice Swift outlined his view that:
Justice Swift did not go so far as to say that the defendants are obliged to pay GPs for their safeguarding work. He stated "Whether such an obligation arises would depend on the application of the ordinary common law principles of the law of contract and the law of restitution as they may apply from case to case."
The comments leave it open for GPs to pursue payment for their safeguarding input and the clarification provided by Justice Swift arguably strengthens their position to do so.
The BMA has not yet indicated whether it intends to take its challenge further and/or approach it in a different manner.