Dentist in court fight over NHS reforms

By John Aston
Tuesday 26 February 2008 01:00

An orthodontist is awaiting a judgment in the High Court on whether he can challenge his NHS dental services contract.

Eddie Crouch, 47, has spent two years fighting for a judicial review and, if he is successful, it could lead to an overhaul of dental services in England and Wales.

Dr Crouch, who runs a practice in Birmingham, argued that South Birmingham Primary Care Trust (PCT) had breached NHS regulations by suggesting that it could terminate his contract "at any time and without cause".

Mr Justice Collins indicated the orthodontist may be successful with this part of the challenge, saying: "I am with you on the termination point." The judge was scathing about NHS regulations for dentists. He said: "It is like going through a marsh, trying to leap from tussock to tussock. I do pity the poor dentists who have to struggle with this kind of rubbish."

A second, wider ranging legal challenge for Mr Justice Collins to consider involves the introduction of personal dental services agreements.

Dr Crouch argued that the agreements had limited services and caused a rise in waiting lists.

The PCT strongly denies the allegations.

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