The achievement of compliance with the European Working Time Directive for non-consultant hospital doctors has been and will continue to be a priority of the Government, in order to improve patient safety as well as the working conditions of doctors. At my request, the HSE has established a senior-level team which, in the course of 2013, has been working intensively with every acute hospital to ensure implementation of the measures necessary to achieve EWTD compliance.
Under a set of proposals agreed under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission in October 2013, the Irish Medical Organisation is now jointly involved with health service national management in an ongoing process to assess the position in each hospital site and agree focused and timebound requirements to resolve outstanding issues. Data for the third quarter of 2013 indicates that 97% of NCHDs now work fewer than 68 hours per week and that 53% are working shifts not exceeding 24 hours. These figures represent a significant improvement on the position at the beginning of the year. I am determined to continue the steady progress being made in addressing this long standing problem. The establishment of Hospital Groups over the coming months will also assist in this regard.