HC Deb 14 June 1999 vol 333 cc10-1W
Miss McIntosh

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 11 May 1999,Official Report, column 136, on junior doctors, when he expects the decision to be made on the extension of Council Directive 93/104/EC relating to junior doctors. [86032]

Mr. Denham

A unanimous decision was made at the European Social Affairs Council on 25 May to propose a thirteen year implementation period for extending the provisions of Council Directive 93/104/EC, the "Working Time Directive", to cover previously excluded groups, including junior hospital doctors. The Council has proposed a transposition period of four years from the date of adoption before new Europe-wide minimum standards apply. These standards will provide a statutory limit to the maximum average working week. There will be a staged period of nine years after transposition, during which interim targets will apply, before the 48 hours limit is reached.

The decision formally to adopt this amendment to the Directive is subject to co-decision between the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament, which is due to re-assemble this autumn.

The Government remains fully committed to implementation of the New Deal on junior doctors' working hours. We have no intention of raising the 56 hour limit which is part of the current agreement.

We need to plan and implement the move to 48 hours carefully over a reasonable period of time, and in such a way that does not jeopardise patient care and the training needs of juniors.

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