Legal battle over junior doctor breaks could have ‘dramatic’ consequences for NHS

A junior doctor is taking the trust it is employed by to court for allegedly not giving young medics enough rest, and potentially putting patient safety at risk.

The doctor, Dr Sarah Hallett, argues that the Royal Derby Hospitals NHS Foundation should ensure that junior medics receive a half an hour break for every four hours they work.

She is bringing the case to court on behalf of 20 other doctors who trained with her in Derby.

If she is successful, Royal Derby Hospitals may be facing a bill of £250,000 to pay for the 21 medics missed breaks over an eight-month period, according to the Derby Telegraph.

In court, NHS Barrister Richard Leiper QC warned that Dr Hallett’s case could have a considerable negative impact on the whole NHS as well as the Derby trust if other junior doctors were to follow suit and launch similar cases.

 “The potential cost to the trust, let alone to the NHS as a whole, would be dramatic,” he stated.

But John Cavanagh QC, representing Dr Hallett, who is also chair of the BMA’s Junior Doctor Committee, said the case was of “general public importance” and was “of significance across the NHS.”

He also said his client’s argument was not just based on money, but also centred around protecting patients.

A spokesperson for the Derby Teaching Hospitals Trust told NHE: “The trust puts patient safety as its top priority.

“This trial is simply about how Derby Teaching Hospitals monitored junior doctors working hours back in 2013. The approach we took mirrors that taken by a significant proportion of NHS trusts up and down the country. No further comment can be made until the conclusion of this test case.”


Shankar Kashyap   21/02/2018 at 13:14

Well done Dr Hallett. It is time that the doctors did something about Victorian work practices in Medicine. The government/GMC/people expect the doctors to work at 110% and it is time they are treated the same. No one comes to a doctors aid when things go wrong - Dr Bawa-Garba's case - when a tired doctor makes a mistake. It is time the doctors joined hands and fight for their rights. I do hope the judge in this case is brave enough to be fair to the Doctors.

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