Health Sec. Shona Robison has dropped plans to stop junior doctors working more than 48 hours a week
Health Secretary Shona Robison previously said that she would include a pledge to stop junior doctors working more than 48 hours a week in her workforce plan.
But she has now withdrawn that promise, claiming she is no longer pursuing the policy because the British Medical Association (BMA) felt it was "unachievable".
She revealed the U-turn in a letter to Brian Connelly, whose 23-year-old daughter Lauren was killed when driving home from a hospital night shift in 2011.
Mr Connelly, who has exposed the "dangerous" shift patterns which his daughter was working in the weeks before her death, said yesterday: "How many more junior doctors have to die or have accidents before the government acts decisively to reduce the number of hours they work?"
This is nothing short of a betrayal of junior doctors
Anas Sarwar – Scottish Labour's health spokesman
Ms Connelly was just seven weeks into her first job at Inverclyde Royal Hospital in Greenock when she died when her car veered off the M8 near Bishopton, Renfrewshire.
Following her death, it emerged she had started on a rota to work 90 hours over 10 days and moved on to a 12-day stretch, which saw her spend more than 107 hours at work.
European Union rules dictate that junior doctors can work up to 48 hours a week but health boards have the power to average the number of hours worked per week over six months.
Lauren Connelly was killed when driving home from a hospital night shift in 2011
Lauren Connelly had started on a rota to work 90 hours over 10 days
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This allows junior doctors to be scheduled to work more than 100 hours between their days off.
Mr Connelly, from East Kilbride, Lanarkshire, has been calling on the NHS to cut working hours to 48 hours without averaging and, in 2015, Ms Robison wrote to him to say she believed she could deliver that aim.
However, with the workforce plan due to be published imminently, Ms Robison has now revealed the pledge has been withdrawn.
In her letter, she said that the BMA felt the policy was "unachievable given the need to maintain a good standard of training for doctors and a safe service for patients and it is not a priority for their members".
But Mr Connelly accused the Health Secretary of "wriggling out of her commitments" and revealed he had met the BMA's Scottish junior doctor committee (SJDC).
He added: "My understanding is that SJDC considers a 48-hour week would be difficult to achieve in current circumstances, that is not the same as suggesting that they do not support it."
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Last night, Scottish Labour's health spokesman Anas Sarwar said: “This is nothing short of a betrayal of junior doctors.
"The SNP cannot keep the promises it made to our doctors because a decade of Nationalist government has created a staffing crisis in our hospitals.
“Our hospitals do not have enough doctors because of a long term failure of the SNP to workforce plan effectively. Junior doctors working unacceptably long hours is a huge risk to themselves and patients."
He added: "This was a promise the government made in the aftermath of a tragedy – trying to quietly wriggle out of that promise is completely unacceptable."
A Scottish Government spokesman said junior doctor rotas were "monitored on a regular basis" and that is continuing to work to "explore all options" to support junior doctors and improve their working lives.