• Nursing rotas at East Cheshire Trust not compliant with European Working Time Directive
  • Problem with e-rostering system affected all acute wards at Macclesfield Hospital
  • Trust unable to say how long rotas have not been compliant with the law on minimum rest hours

Nurses at East Cheshire Trust have been working shifts which failed to ensure they had the legal minimum number of rest hours, HSJ has learned.

The trust admitted a problem with its e-rostering system had meant nurse rotas were not compliant with the European Working Time Directive.

All acute wards at the trust’s Macclesfield Hospital were affected but the error did not impact on staff working in the community.

The problem was identified in September and mainly affected staff working consecutive days and those finishing a late shift followed by an early shift.

It meant these nurses were getting less than the minimum 11 hours rest required by the EWTD, which was adopted by the UK in 1998.

The trust told HSJ it was still reviewing how long rotas had not been compliant with the law.

The trust has launched a consultation with nursing staff to permanently change working patterns to ensure minimum rest hours are met although it confirmed all rotas were due to be compliant as of today, 4 January.

Changes to the rotas could financially affect some staff working bank shifts but nurses have been assured changes will not affect their salary levels.

A memo to all ward based nursing staff from Carol Seddon, deputy director of nursing and quality, obtained by HSJ, said the consultation to determine future working patterns would last until 11 March.

She said: “Whilst the consultation is ongoing, the trust can no longer continue to breach EWTD regulations which are designed to benefit and support shift workers. As an interim measure, it has been agreed with staff side that all shifts need to be rostered to comply with EWTD.”

A spokesman for East Cheshire Trust told HSJ: “The trust consultation is aiming to ensure that all rotas have the appropriate minimum rest period between shifts and staff are fully informed and engaged. Staff side unions have been fully involved.

“The proposals do not involve any reduction in individual staff members’ overall contracted hours. Some staff may see changes [to pay] as a result of different working patterns.”