HC Deb 11 February 2004 vol 417 cc1518-9W
Mrs. Iris Robinson

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what action will be taken against NHS trusts which fail to ensure their posts are compliant with the European Working Time Directive by August 2004. [154565]

Angela Smith

The European Working Time Directive is being introduced on a phased basis from August 2004 for doctors in training, and places a legal obligation on both employers and employees to comply with these regulations. All HPSS Boards and Trusts here are making significant efforts to put measures in place to achieve compliance with this Directive, as it currently stands, and my Department is continuing to increase the numbers of medical staffing in both consultant and training grades so that there is increased activity and improved patient care.

In recognition of the limiting effects of these regulations, the European Commission recently launched a public consultation across all member states on the implications of the Working Time Directive and subsequent rulings. This may lead to change in some of the requirements and, until the final requirements are clear, any action on failure to comply can not be determined at this stage.