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Junior Doctors: Working Hours

Volume 465: debated on Thursday 25 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of junior doctors worked a maximum of 48-hours a week in the latest period for which figures are available. (159805)

The new deal contract monitoring returns give an indication of national health service readiness for fully implementing the working time directive (WTD) 48-hour week for doctors in training. Monitoring information for 2006 is published on the NHS employers website at:

and showed that approximately 40 per cent. of doctors in training worked a 48-hour week. The 2007 new deal information will be collected on 31 October 2007 by local NHS employers, then collated and published in early 2008.

It is the responsibility of local employers to implement WTD as part of their health and safety obligations.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether time spent asleep by a junior doctor on call counts against the 48 hour working time directive; and if he will make a statement. (159986)

The European Working Time Directive defines working time is as follows:

“Working time shall mean any period during which the worker is working, at the employer’s disposal and carrying out his or her activity or duties, in accordance with national laws and/or practice”.

The European Court of Justice ruled in the SiMAP and Jaeger cases that time spent on call by doctors must be regarded in its entirety as working time, even if they are asleep, if they are required to be present at the health centre.