Junior Doctors: Conditions of Employment

Department of Health written question – answered on 3rd November 2015.

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Photo of Greg Mulholland Greg Mulholland Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Campaigns Chair

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, with reference to his proposals for a new junior doctors' contract, what penalties would be enforceable against employers who fail to keep junior doctors' hours within safe limits.

Photo of Ben Gummer Ben Gummer The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

Safeguards will be significantly improved compared to the existing contract, with employers contractually required to ensure safe working including:

- No junior will be contractually required to work more than an average of 48 hours a week;

- Those who choose to opt-out of the Working Time Regulations (WTR) (legally allowing them to work longer) will be limited to an average of 56 hours a week;

- The maximum number of hours in any week will be 72, less than the 91 currently possible under the WTR;

- There will be limits of no more than four consecutive night shifts and no more than five consecutive long days; and

- Employers will be required to take action where a junior is concerned about hours as part of an agreed system of work scheduling and review. In exceptional approved circumstances doctors would be compensated for hours worked outside their work schedule.

Employment contracts are legally enforceable. There will also be external NHS review processes relating to the educational experience and the impact of working patterns on safe care.

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