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Working Time Directive

Volume 406: debated on Tuesday 10 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the impact of the European Working Time Directive on midwives. [110956]

The European Working Time Directive (EWTD) was transposed into UK law and became the Working Time Regulations on 1 October 1998. It applies to all employees, including midwives, working in the UK with the exception of those in the excluded sectors. Doctors in training are currently excluded, but EWTD will apply to them from 1 August 2004. We are working with the Modernisation Agency, piloting solutions to EWTD in a range of trusts, which involve "new ways of working", in terms of role development and the substitution.An agreement was made in the General Whitley Council on the operation of the regulations for nonmedical staff on national contracts, which also includes midwives. Additionally, the Department of Health also issued guidance in Health Service Circular 1998/204, "Working Time Regulations—Implementation in the NHS". It is the responsibility of local national health service employers to implement the regulations as they see fit to meet local circumstances. We are not aware of any particular national problems in the implementation of the Whitley agreement.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to his answer of 21 May 2003, Official Report, column 861W, on the Working Time Directive, by how much he expects the number of doctors on an individual rota on call to have to increase to implement the 2004 requirements. [116902]

The number of doctors required on an on-call rota to comply with the 2004 Working Time Directive (WTD) requirements will vary, depending on a range of local factors, for example the way in which services are organised and/or the skill mix of the staff who provide them.

There are a range of solutions to WTD compliance which involve changing the working practices of both medical and non-medical staff and building on the increases in consultant and specialist registrar numbers.

This will enable the national health service to deliver increases in both the quality and quantity of service delivery whilst minimising the additional costs of WTD implementation.