§ Rev. Martin Smyth
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the impact on the Health Service in Northern Ireland of the restriction in working hours of junior doctors under the European Working Time Directive, with particular reference to(a) ward numbers and (b) specialist services. 
§ Angela Smith
From August 2004, doctors in training will become subject to the working restrictions applicable under the European Working Time Directive. A substantial programme of work is under way, in partnership with the HPSS Boards and Trusts here, to ensure compliance with this Directive across all employing organisations, and all specialties within each organisation.
Trusts have been asked to provide action plans showing how they will achieve compliance with the EWTD by August 2004. The HPSS Junior Doctors Implementation Support Group, established in 2001 to oversee implementation of the New Deal for Doctors in Training, is currently assessing these Action Plans and is taking a regional view of how EWTD will impact. The Implementation Support Group is expected to make recommendations to my Department shortly on the best way forward.
To support HPSS Employers, my Department has already published a range of guidance on EWTD, monitoring Junior Doctor working patterns and 332W developing new means of delivering the service. In addition, we are currently monitoring the progress of a number of pilot projects that are being undertaken within the NHS in England. These pilots are developing and testing further methods of how employers can achieve compliance with the European Working Time Directive. My Department will be seeking to determine which of these pilots can apply in an equally beneficial manner within the Health Service in Northern Ireland.