Working Time Directive

House of Lords written question – answered on 23rd June 2009.

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Photo of Baroness Finlay of Llandaff Baroness Finlay of Llandaff Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have revised their forecast of the level of compliance in the National Health Service with the European working time directive in August 2009 in light of the latest data from strategic health authorities; and, if so, when they expect to achieve full compliance; and by what means.

Photo of Lord Darzi of Denham Lord Darzi of Denham Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

Our overall aim is to ensure that, consistent with patient safety, the maximum number of services are supported to achieve compliance by 1 August.

The National Health Service (NHS) is compliant with the exception of junior doctors in training. Two-thirds of junior doctors are already working a 48-hour week averaged over 26 weeks. There will be a small number of 24-hour immediate care services, supra-specialist services and units in rural and isolated areas that may need support beyond 1 August. These services formed the basis of the United Kingdom's notification of derogation to the European Commission in January and now inform the statutory instrument that will be laid in Parliament on 24 June 2009. Information will be published in due course.

Derogation means that the directive allows a possible 52-hour week until 2011 (exceptionally until 2012) in services that may require more time to achieve the average 48-hour week. This flexibility represents good NHS management.

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