§ 27. Mr. Matthew Banks
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what were the average hours worked in any week by a junior hospital doctor in 1979 and the most recent year available; and what plans she has to reduce the figure.
§ Dr. Mawhinney
In 1979 junior hospital doctors in England and Wales were contracted to be on duty for an average of 89 hours per week. At 30 September 1990, the latest date for which information is available, this average had fallen to 79 hours per week.
Following the launch of the new deal for junior doctors in June 1991 we have an agreed timetable for reducing the hours of duty of doctors and dentists in training. Our target is to reduce maximum average contracted hours of duty to 83 per week for those working on-call rotas, 72 per week for those working partial shifts and 60 per week for those working full shifts by 1 April 1993. They are to be reduced further by 31 December 1994, to 72 per week for those working on-call rotas in hard-pressed posts, 64 hours per week for those working partial shifts and 56 hours per week for those working on full shifts. Subject to review, our aim is to reduce the maximum average contracted hours of junior doctors working on-call rotas in posts which are not considered to be hard-pressed to 72 per week by 31 December 1996. However in certain circumstances higher specialist trainees may continue to contract for up to 83 hours after this date. These measures will further reduce the average weekly contracted hours of junior doctors.
Regardless of the contracted hours of duty for individual posts we intend that from 31 December 1994 junior doctors should not normally be expected to work for more than an average of 56 hours per week.