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Medicopolitical Digest

Medicopolitical DigestGovernment condemned over juniors' hoursTalks start on new consultant contractJuniors issue challenge to health ministersStudents are concerned about GMC guidance

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 22 May 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:1425

Government condemned over juniors' hours

The BMA council has unanimously condemned the UK government's attempt to renege on the new deal on junior doctors' hours by proposing a European legal limit on working time of 65 hours a week(15 May, p 1307).

The chairman, Dr Ian Bogle, has asked the health secretary, Mr Frank Dobson, to clarify the government's policy and asked for an urgent meeting. Both Mr Dobson and the prime minister denied in the House of Commons that they had any intention of increasing the hours worked by junior doctors. However, a letter from Ms Tessa Jowell, the minister for public health, indicates that the government does not expect the new deal targets to be met for a further three years—no doctor should have been working over 56 hours by December 1996—and questions whether junior doctors should be included within the European Union's working time directive. This limits working to 48 hours a week.

Dr Bogle says, “We believe we have promoted the extension of the directive to junior doctors in a sensible and reasonable way, emphasising the need for maximum flexibility and an appropriate implementation period.” He reminds Mr Dobson …

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