Birmingham orthodontist Eddie Crouch has said he’s ‘hugely disappointed’ after losing his bid to prove the NHS did not properly consult the public over new dental contracts.
Dr Crouch won the first stage of his case on Monday when the judge ruled the NHS could not sack him at will – a High Court victory for dentists generally.
But in the second, wider-ranging legal challenge, Mr Justice Collins sided with South Birmingham Primary Care Trust (PCT) over the issue of public consultation.
Dr Crouch now faces a massive legal bill of an estimated £80,000.
Mr Justice Collins said dentists might consider ‘a whip round’ to pay it.
He said the British Dental Association (BDA) could help organise the aid, adding: ‘He has obviously achieved something of importance to them as well as to himself.’
On Monday, lawyers – paid for by Dr Crouch – successfully argued that South Birmingham PCT had breached NHS regulations by suggesting it could terminate his contract ‘at any time and without cause’.
The judge ruled the PCT had no legal right to do so, and it would be acting in a way that could result in hardship for orthodontists.
But the second limb of the legal challenge failed.
This concerned whether the PCT unlawfully failed to consult the public adequately in order to assess local orthodontic needs before introducing the new personal dental services agreements (PDSAs) in April 2006 to improve the service.
The judge said both sides should pay their own costs, apart from the PCT being ordered to pay £1,500 to cover the cost of ‘unnecessary’ paperwork he ruled had been generated by the case.
Dr Crouch said: ‘I find it quite remarkable that I brought this case on behalf of my patients and it has ended up costing me an awful lot of money.’
He said he had received about £45,000 from fellow dentists around the country, but this was to meet the PCT’s legal costs if he lost, not his own.
He added: ‘I will have to approach those who have given me cheques and see if they will assist me with my own costs.’