The High Court has handed down a judgment with important implications for any NHS employer managing a doctor facing a criminal investigation. The doctor in question was being investigated for gross negligence manslaughter. The High Court decision is:

(A) The implied term of mutual trust and confidence means that an employer should not conduct its internal disciplinary process before the CPS has reached a decision about prosecution, where the doctor’s position is that he has been advised not to participate and where the Trust cannot promise it will not pass on information from the disciplinary to the police.

(B) Where the doctor is subject to an interim suspension order by the GMC, preventing him from carrying out any work, his employer is not entitled to cease paying him.

(C) Significantly, the Court also interprets the national consultant contract (Schedule 19) in a way that suggests an NHS employer can dismiss a doctor without an internal hearing, for failure to maintain his or her registration (ie as a result of the interim suspension order).

The case is the latest in a series of Court interventions about how NHS employers interpret the national framework for managing doctors, Maintaining High Professional Standards.

Here is a link to the case: