§ Mr. Haynes
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what action the Government are taking to reduce the hours worked by junior doctors;
(2) if he will make a statement on the results of the recent conference organised by the chief medical officer on junior doctors' hours of work.
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
An account of the conference is in preparation, and I will send a copy to the hon. Member as soon as it is available. Broadly speaking, there was general agreement that the hours of work of some junior doctors are unacceptable and that in the acute specialties doctors should not regularly be on duty more often than one night or one weekend in three. In other specialties, however, it was recognised that apparently heavy commitments might not be too onerous in practice.
The participants agreed that action to reduce hours had to be taken locally, in consultation with all concerned, and a number of examples of sensible arrangement of rotas were cited.
The account of the conference will be sent to the various bodies concerned asking for their comments, and for their help in implementing the conclusions. I have asked officials to hold discussions with representatives of the profession and of the NHS to agree a framework within which local reviews of hours can take place.