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Legal challenge to locum fee scales ban

The BMA is to launch a formal legal challenge next month to overturn the Office of Fair Trading ban on its publication of locum fee scales.

The ban has been in place since 2000 when the OFT ruled the BMA's publication of the fee scales breached anti-competition rules.

Dr Peter Holden, chair of the BMA's professional fees committee, said the ruling was based on the mistaken assumption that locums operate in a competitive market.

'For there to be competition there has to be an open market, but there is only one employer of locums and one supplier,' he said.

Setting pay rates had been 'pure chaos' for practices and locums since the ban on fee scales was introduced, he added.

Dr Holden said the BMA had more confidence in the strength of its case after employing a QC to prepare evidence but added that the situation could take time to resolve.

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