Junior doctors have won a court case against a hospital trust over rest breaks which “could have far-reaching implications for the NHS.” 

In the case, 20 junior doctors took the Derby Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to court claiming errors in the way the NHS Trust carried out rota checks correctly. 

Under the contractual terms for junior doctors, doctors across the NHS should get a 30-minute break every four hours they work or be paid double for the time. 

Derby NHS Trust relied on ‘expected’ working hours data rather than ‘actual’ data into the software to assess whether the doctor’s duty periods were contract compliant.  

The Court of Appeal in this case ruled that the way Derby NHS Trust carried out rota checks was “irrational” and a breach of the trust’s contractual obligations.  In addition to the individual circumstances of the case, Lord Justice Bean also said the wider cost to the NHS is “potentially substantial”. 

The British Medical Association, which backed the appeal, said the judgement was a “significant victory”. 

It added: “In overturning last year’s ruling, the Court of Appeal has established a binding precedent in England and Wales.” 

University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust executive medical director Magnus Harrison said: ‘It is important that we reflect carefully on the judgment and whether it should be appealed. We are working closely with our legal representatives and relevant stakeholders and we will make a decision in due course.’ 

A Department of Health said it was “disappointed” and will support Derby Hospitals’ next steps.


Stephen McCaffrey

I am a GMC Defence Barrister who has represented large number of medical professionals before their regulatory bodies in either first instance proceedings or appeals.  I can help with all matters relating to GMC Fitness to Practise Referrals issues including:

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