HL Deb 12 June 1991 vol 529 cc61-2WA
Baroness Cox

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What plans they have to reduce the hours worked by junior hospital doctors.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hooper):

We are issuing today further guidance to health authorities, health boards and NHS trusts on reducing the hours of duty of hospital doctors and dentists in training. A copy hair been placed in the Library. At the heart of the guidance is an agreement between the health departments and the medical profession setting, for the first time, explicit controls on the contractual hours of duty of doctors in training, including controls on the maximum periods of continuous duty and minimum periods of off duty time, for each of the working arrangements (full shifts, partial shifts and on-call rotas). The agreement also sets a clear timetable for change.

The agreement is accompanied by guidance to assist authorities, boards and trusts, with the help of task forces, and, in Scotland, local implementation groups, to achieve reductions in hours while maintaining clinical standards and educational opportunities. This includes guidance on changing patterns of work for hospital doctors in training, including illustrations of shift patterns which meet the hours criteria; guidance on making the best use of nursing and midwifery staff and technical, clerical, administrative and other staff to help to reduce the hours of work of doctors in training while delivering improved patient care; good practice guidance on living and working conditions for doctors in training; guidance from the Central Consultants and Specialists Committee on the role of consultants in providing emergency cover throughout the 24-hour period and on the need to move to a more team based method of working; and guidance from the Conference of Medical Royal Colleges and individual colleges and faculties on the educational and training implications of reducing hours.

In addition, the Government have made funds available for additional medical staff to help authorities, boards and trusts to reduce hours.

The Ministerial Group on Junior Doctors' Hours, its supporting technical group and parallel groups in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will continue to monitor progress in reducing hours and we look forward to seeing real advances made on this front.