A group of NHS staff and patients are seeking £25,000 to investigate judicial review proceedings into the junior doctors contract.
The group will try to fund the action through the CrowdJustice website having received agreement from London firm Bindmans that it will take on the case.
It is thought to be one of the highest-profile examples of funding litigation through mass appeals, as medics attempt to legally challenge the imposition of new work contracts.
Doctors argue the new contract will harm patient safety and the stability of the NHS, with health secretary Jeremy Hunt saying it is necessary to ensure consistent standards of care across seven days of the week.
Dr Ben White, one of those leading the legal challenge campaign, said a judicial review is a chance to present all the facts and allow an independent person to decide. The fundraising campaign officially launched at midnight today.
‘Staff know that the lack of workforce planning, lack of cost modelling, plus rota and staffing issues, create a perfect storm where patient safety will inevitably be compromised,’ he said.
‘We must challenge this contract in the High Court. A judicial review would consider all relevant factors and hold the government accountable for decisions it has made. Ultimately, this is about public safety.’
The British Medical Association has already announced plans for a legal challenge on the grounds that the government failed to carry out an equality impact assessment.
It is understood the crowd-sourced proceedings would be significantly broader in scope and examine other aspects of the decision to impose the contract.
Doctors are due to take industrial action over the contract on two further occasions in April, having already gone on strike on the emergency-only model several times since the turn of the year.
The Department of Health has said strike action is ‘completely unnecessary’ and that the new contract will mean an average 13.5% basic pay rise and bring down the maximum number of hours doctors can work.
The CrowdJustice website, the first of its kind in the UK, currently has nine appeals ongoing in addition to the doctors’ action. If a case does not reach its tipping point, donors pledging more than £1,000 can request a donation, but otherwise the money is handed to a designated charity.