I propose to take Questions Nos. 684 and 685 together.
S.I. No. 494 of 2004 European Communities (Organisation of Working Time) (Activities of Doctors in Training) Regulations 2004, which transposed the EU Working Time Directive, provides for:
A maximum 48 hour average working week;
A 30 minute rest break every 6 hours during period on-site on-call;
11 hours rest every 24 hours or equivalent compensatory rest before return to work;
35 hours continuous rest per week or twice a fortnight or 59 hours continuous rest per fortnight.
The 2010 Contract of Employment for Non-Consultant Hospital Doctors (NCHDs), which these staff sign on appointment, reflects the above provisions. Under the contract NCHDs are to undertake the duties/services set out in the contract, typically for 39 hours per week and to deliver these hours on any 5 days out of the 7 in a week. However, the contract provides that NCHDs shall not be required to work more than 24 consecutive hours on-site. In addition, the contract also states that work outside the confines of the contract is not permissible if the combined working time associated with employment under the contract taken together with any other employment exceeds the maximum weekly working hours as set out in S.I. 494 of 2004. A related agreement between the HSE and the IMO provides that the contract is subject to the Directive. On the13th January 2012, in response to a Reasoned Opinion on EWTD compliance forwarded by the EU Commission, Ireland submitted a detailed Plan outlining how it will achieve compliance by NCHDs with the Working Time Directive. The response affirms Ireland’s commitment to achieving compliance with the Directive and sets out a timeframe for achieving this over the next 3 years. It commits to implementing measures that will support compliance, including:
a. The implementation of new work patterns for medical staff;
b. Transfer of work undertaken by NCHDs to other grades;
c. Organisation of hospital services to support EWTD compliance.
These measures will be complemented by my plan to establish hospital groups as soon as possible, by the efficiencies being driven by the Special Delivery Unit in association with the HSE's National Clinical Programmes and by the ongoing changes in work practice being advanced under the Public service Agreement.