'Landmark' ruling grants job rights to out-of-hours GPs
By Lilian Anekwe
A GP has won a ‘landmark' legal case to establish employment rights for thousands of doctors who do shifts for out-of-hours providers.
Dr Srinivas Rao Dharmana, a GP in Liverpool, won the right to take out-of-hours operator Urgent Care 24 to a tribunal to sue for unfair dismissal.
Urgent Care 24, which is planning to appeal, argued that Dr Dharmana had no employment rights because he was self-employed.
But Dr Dharmana successfully argued that while he was working, out of hours for Urgent Care 24 he was effectively an employee, and should have employment rights as such.
A ‘pre-hearing review', to decide whether he could go to tribunal, said: ‘GPs have fiercely protected their right to be independent contractors. But this is not a case dealing with the status of Dr Dharmana in his role as a GP looking after the 2,300 patients on his list in his in-hours work.
‘Dr Dharmana has chosen to provide his expertise out of hours presumably, in part, to recoup some of the money he has given up (6%) when he chose to give up his practise's out-of-hours work. The relationship therefore he had with [Urgent Care 24] is very different from his relationship with both the NHS and the PCT itself.'
Dr Dharmana told Pulse: ‘My judgment is a landmark case for the whole country. If you are employed by an out-of-hours organisation you have the same rights and privileges as an employee. GPs should not be worried that because they are "self employed" they don't have any rights.'
Paul Werrell, associate solicitor at Lockarts', said: 'My suspicion is that other OOH providers will operate in a similar way. This case may have implications for other GPs working for OOH providers with similar contractual arrangements. '
Dr Simon Abrams, medical director of Urgent Care 24 said it was planning to appeal the decision of Dr Dharmana's pre-hearing review.OOH GPs: may be affected by new employment ruling OOH GPs: may be affected by new employment ruling