Junior doctors across the NHS are entitled to a 30 minute break every four hours they work or be paid double for the time.

Dr Sarah Hallett, who trained at the Royal Derby Hospital for eight months in 2013, initially lost a High Court challenge in April 2018 where she claimed that the Trust had failed in their duty by not ensuring that employees were taking adequate breaks or were paid extra for working overtime.

Dr Hallett appealed the decision of the High Court alongside 20 other junior doctors in the Court of Appeal. Lord Justice Bean sitting in the Court of Appeal noted that the Trust’s method of calculating employee breaks was “irrational” and a “breach of contract” as it relied on data from advanced rotas and not from actual recordings of shift patterns. The ruling has also been backed by the British Medical Association.

Lawyers for Health Secretary Matt Hancock advised the Court that the Court of Appeal’s decision could have significant financial implications as it is estimated that junior doctors could be owed £250,000 in unpaid salary.

Dr Hallett has viewed the ruling as a “bittersweet victory” noting on her twitter page that it should not have needed the Court of Appeal’s involvement to confirm the importance of ensuring that junior doctors get adequate breaks.

Of course, junior doctors (and medical staff in general) not getting adequate breaks will also be of concern to patients as tired and overworked staff will inevitably lead to more mistakes being made which in turn could lead to more clinical negligence claims being pursued.

Freeths LLP Clinical negligence solicitors have vast experience in claims arising from the malpractice of medical staff in both the NHS and private hospitals. If you are concerned about any treatment which you or a loved one have received please contact national team:-

Karen Reynolds, Partner (Derby/Stoke/Birmingham) 0845 272 5677 Karen.reynolds@freeths.co.uk

Carolyn Lowe, Partner (Oxford/Milton Keynes) 0186 578 1019 Carolyn.lowe@freeths.co.uk

Jane Williams, Partner (Leicester/ Nottingham) 0845 272 5724 Jane.williams@freeths.co.uk

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