Lord Blencathra – 2016 Parliamentary Question to the Department of Health

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Lord Blencathra on 2016-10-20.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Prior of Brampton on 25 July (HL1283), and in the light of the need to maintain compliance with EU law until the UK leaves the EU, what plans they have to discuss with NHS Trusts the introduction of new rotas for doctors which, following the UK’s departure from the EU, would exceed the current hours prescribed by the Working Time Directive.

Lord Prior of Brampton

The new rotas being introduced as part of the new contract for doctors in training include contractual limits on working hours that are stronger than those prescribed in the Working Time Directive. The contract limits weekly average hours to 48, and it places a cap of 72 hours on the number of hours that can be worked in any one week, compared to 91 hours under the Directive. It also reduces the number of consecutive nights and consecutive long days that doctors in training can work, compared to the current arrangements. Trusts are contractually obliged to observe these limits, regardless of the Working Time limits. Robust arrangements are in place to ensure this happens, with Guardians of Safe Working Hours in each trust. Trusts will be fined if junior doctors miss more than 25% of their designated meal breaks, work more than an average of 48 hours a week over 17 weeks or work more than the 72 hours limit in any one week.

Negotiations on a new contract for consultants have included a similar focus on safe working hours and limits. Discussions have been constructive and are continuing.