The announcement that 30,000 junior doctors are to benefit from higher pay deals from tomorrow will encourage trusts to reduce the excessive hours they work.

Those which fail to comply with the government target of a maximum of 56 hours a week will be routinely named and face financial penalties.

The government and the British Medical Association have agreed a contract that awards an extra£1,700 to new junior doctors and an extra£2,800 to senior house officers.

There will be further increases over the next three years for all junior doctors, with the highest increases going to those working the longest hours.

Hospitals failing to bring their junior doctors' hours down will have to pay those juniors who continue to work over 56 hours a week an increase of 62 per cent this year, 70 per cent in 2001 and 100 per cent from December 2002.

The idea, says the government, is not to pay premium rates for excessive hours but to ensure that junior doctors do not exceed their 56-hour week.

Health minister John Denham said the new system would reward doctors for their commitment to the NHS by reflecting the total hours and also the unsocial nature of their work.

'It also provides a sharp financial incentive for all trusts to ensure junior doctors do not have to work excessive hours.'

Regional action teams, including junior doctors, will be set up to work with hospitals to ensure they are meeting the targets.

For the first time the government intends to publish the compliance rates of individual hospitals.

Department of Health figures show nearly 40 per cent of junior doctors' working conditions do not comply with the hours and rest rules of the 1991 new deal on junior doctors' hours.

Dr Trevor Pickersgill, chair of the BMA's junior doctors' committee, welcomed the new contract but said it was 'unacceptable' that trusts were not using available solutions to remedy the situation.