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Hospital Staffs (Hours)

Volume 78: debated on Thursday 9 May 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the average number of hours worked each week by National Health Service nurses and junior hospital doctors, respectively; and what have been the trends in these figures in recent years.

Following is the information requested. The figures for nurses and junior hospital doctors cannot sensibly be compared with each other at all.Those for nurses are the averages of the actual hours worked by a sample of NHS nursing and midwifery staff during a specified pay period. We reduced nurses' contracted hours from 40 to 37½ per week in 1980–81.The figures for junior doctors show the average number of contracted hours, which include a standard working week of 40 hours plus periods of on-call liability. In many cases, however, these are hours during which the doctor may be called in for duty, not hours actually worked. Nevertheless, we continue to take active steps to encourage authorities to reduce the excessive hours of some junior doctors and to press the profession to co-operate with this aim at local level.

(a) Nursing and Midwifery staff: average weekly hours worked (including overtime) by full-time staff (GB)*†

April 1979

April 1980

April 1981

April 1982

April 1983

April 1984


Source: New Earnings Survey.


* Full-time staff are defined as those with normal basic hours over 30 hours per week.

Contracted hours for such staff were 40 per week (excluding meal breaks) at April 1980 and were reduced to 37½ per week by April 1981.

(b) Junior hospital doctors*: Average weekly hours for which full-time staff were contracted (England and Wales)

At 30 September

Average weekly hours



*Including grades of senior registrar, registrar, senior house officer and house officer.

Source: DHSS.