Doctors: Working Hours

Department of Health written question – answered on 22nd January 2015.

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Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Conservative, Christchurch

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, with reference to the report of the independent taskforce on the implementation of the Working Time Directive under the chairmanship of Professor Norman Williams, published on 3 April 2014, what steps the Government has taken in response to that report.

Photo of Daniel Poulter Daniel Poulter The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

Work is ongoing to address the recommendations made by the independent taskforce on the implementation of the Working Time Directive, which has been recognised to have a detrimental impact on the quality of some junior doctors training and on the continuity of care for patients.

Health Education England (HEE) has been tasked in their annual mandate, to continue to work with the Department of Health and stakeholders to explore all the recommendations resulting from the Taskforce’s review and to look at the detail and options open to the National Health Service in the context of the wider recommendations detailed by the taskforce. HEE has set up a specific working group, with membership from the service and other stakeholders (including the Royal College of Physicians) to specifically examine the challenges set by the taskforce around the definitions of work and training. In addition NHS Employers and the British Medical Association are in negotiations on the contracts for doctors and dentists in training and consultants. The negotiations will take into account all relevant factors including regulations and legislation governing working time.

The Department continues to work with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to ensure that in any future negotiations or reappraisal of the European Working Time Directive the needs of the NHS for increased flexibility are wholly explored and the concerns detailed in the taskforce’s report fully represented.

Additionally HEE, the Department and other stakeholders will continue to explore the options open to organisations to maximise any flexibility in working patterns, rota design and the deployment of staff to achieve the maximum flexibility possible.

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