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Junior Doctors: Working Hours

Question for Department of Health

UIN 14842, tabled on 4 November 2015

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what representations he has received about the level of junior doctor cover at weekends.

Answered on

9 November 2015

We have evidence that hospital leaders consider the junior doctors’ contract to be a significant barrier to delivering more seven-day services. NHS Providers’ written evidence to the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) on contract reform for consultants and doctors and dentists in training[1] stated that the junior doctor contract is still a significant source of barriers to seven day working and reform of the junior doctor contract is also required to support trusts to deliver more seven-day services. In particular, the pay banding system for junior doctors needs to be reviewed. There were concerns from employers that the banding system is too complicated, can create “perverse incentives” for junior doctors, and means that providing more seven-day services is unaffordable, since more junior doctors would be working outside core hours and receive premiums under the current banding system. NHS Providers also believe that more hours in a day and more days of the week need to be defined as core hours, as the current arrangement does not support the delivery of more seven-day services or reflect the needs and expectations of today’s patients. Professor Sir Bruce Keogh has also said that premium pay rates are hindering efforts to put services on a seven-day footing.


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