The case concerned Community Based Care Health Ltd, a not for profit company that provided the services of NHS GPs to a local primary care trust. The Claimant, Narayan, was a GP who registered with the Respondent in 2005 as a duty doctor.
The Claimant worked regular shifts, usually on a 12 week rota and more often than not at the same establishment, where she treated patients like any other GP. The Respondent was not obliged to provide shifts to the Claimant and the Claimant was not obliged to accept any shifts offered.
The Claimant took holidays whenever she liked but was subject to ground rules imposed by the Respondent in relation to shift allocation.
In 2014, the NHS implemented a new standard contract which required the Respondent to ensure that the Claimant (and all the other GPs signed up with them) was competent and properly qualified to provide the service.
During 2015, the Claimant set up a limited company to receive her payments and she accounted for all tax and national insurance contributions via the limited company. Although she did not inform the Respondent of the limited company, she did provide its bank details for payments to be made to into it.
A year later, issues arose leading the Respondent to inform the Claimant that it was ceasing to offer her further work. In response, the Claimant presented various claims in the Employment Tribunal.
The Employment Tribunal held that the Claimant was a worker of the Respondent, thus granting her various worker’s rights. The Respondent appealed this decision; their position was that in 2015 the Respondent had, albeit without its knowledge, become a client of the Claimant’s limited company and therefore the Claimant could not be a worker for the Respondent.
For technical reasons this ground of appeal was not allowed, however the EAT Judge thought best to consider it in any event. He held that there would be no merit in this argument due to the NHS contract requiring those performing the services to comply with strict qualification and performance requirements. The EAT Judge noted that a limited company, not being a human or a doctor, could not possibly satisfy such NHS requirements.
As the Claimant worked regular shifts for the Respondent over a number of years, the EAT distinguished this matter from that of Suhail v Herts Urgent Care where the GP in that case was held to be self-employed as he actively marketed his services to various NHS bodies.
The EAT therefore sided with the lower tribunal and held that the Claimant was indeed a worker for the Respondent company and the fact that she provided her services via a limited company did not impact on this assessment.
If you are a GP or a GP practice and would like further advice and assistance on this matter, or any other GP Practice specific issues, please contact Joan Pettingill on 0114 228 3252 or Joan.Pettingill@luptonfawcett.law, a Partner in our specialist GP Practices team who would be delighted to help.
Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.