Our legal team have championed practitioners in an unprecedented legal battle based on unfounded NHS England claims.
The success of our in-house legal team protecting members, working as employees or locums, represents a significant win for the profession. The case – which lasted over two years – arose when NHS England decided in 2014 to pursue performers for General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) claims.
Commenting on the background to the case, Gerda Goldinger, AOP Legal and Regulatory Services Director, said: “The NHS has always had the remit to audit records produced by contractors. However in 2013, NHS England adopted a different approach to the auditing and recovery of GOS claims that they thought had been inappropriately claimed.”
Ms Goldinger continued: “The change in approach was an aggressive one. The company brought in by NHS England started to work with a firm of solicitors to threaten members. And not just with the recovery of sums that they considered to be due, but with taking away their livelihoods and their homes if they did not respond urgently and positively to the claim letters.”
Described as a “frightening and intimidating” tactic, this practice was then extended to performers, who were working as employees or locums of contractors. At this point, the AOP was compelled to intervene to protect its members. Ms Goldinger explained: “We knew that if NHS England directly pursued the performer, the move was going to change the landscape forever, and we needed to act.”
Ms Goldinger continued: “This case would have meant a much more defensive mode of practice would have been adopted. And it would have pushed a lot of performers out of the profession because it would have become a stressful way to work.”
Read our press release, AOP success in legal case to protect the profession, for more information.