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The NHS faces a bill of millions of pounds after a junior doctor won a test case yesterday about the way a hospital trust monitored rest breaks.
Dr Sarah Hallett and 20 colleagues who trained with her said that Derby Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust failed to ensure that the doctors took regular breaks nor that they were paid for extra work undertaken.
The Derby hospitals, which are now part of University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust (UHDB), will have to repay the doctors around £250,000 for underpayments over an eight-month period but the judge ruled that the cost for the wider NHS is “potentially substantial”.
Commercially available workforce rostering software known as Allocate, used at Derby, is widely embedded across the NHS to monitor rest break compliance.
Last month, just a fortnight before the hearing, health secretary Matt Hancock attempted to intervene in the case because of the “considerable” financial implications.
Doctors union, the British Medical Association, which supported the case, described the ruling as a “significant victory”.
Dr Jeeves Wijesuriya, chair of the BMA junior doctors committee, said: “[Yesterday's] ruling is a victory for junior doctors and confirms that trusts or health boards have been using commercial software that has underestimated the hard work, long hours and inadequate rest faced by junior doctors for years.
“In overturning last year’s ruling, the Court of Appeal has established a binding precedent in England and Wales in favour of the BMA regarding how monitoring of junior doctors on the 2002 contract should be done.
“The doctor supported by the BMA in the case, Dr Sarah Hallett, is not seeking compensation. Our objective has always been to establish the correct interpretation in the law to both protect patient safety and the interests of junior doctors.”
Dr Hallett described the victory as “bittersweet” in a tweet.
The case centres on whether the hospital c