Health trusts could land in the dock over doctors’ hours

Hospitals
across the UK could face legal action if they do not recognise the rights of
junior doctors to work fewer hours.

The
British Medical Association (BMA) is examining legal options open to doctors
whose rights are being ignored by three-quarters of the country’s hospitals.

Maximum
hours, standards of accommodation and minimum rest requirements were agreed in
1991. Trusts who do not comply could have training posts taken away.

Under
the terms of the 1991 New Deal, junior doctors should not be on their feet
working for more than 56 hours a week, or do more than 72 hours of total work
(including time spent on call).

The
limits were initially introduced as guidance, and have applied to first-year
doctors since 2001, but they will now be contractually binding for all junior
doctors.

Jo
Hilborne, joint deputy chairman of the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee said:
"Despite the fact that hospitals have known about the deadline for 12
years, only a quarter have done enough to meet it.

"Nobody
wants to see doctors being forced to take legal action, but because of the lack
of preparation in some trusts, it could happen," she said.

By
Michael Millar

Comments are closed.