A trust has claimed a first by signing an agreement with staff on issues covered by the European working times directive.

Royal Shrewsbury Hospitals trust's agreement excludes junior doctors but says all other staff should work a maximum 48-hour week, calculated over six months.

Staff should also take regular breaks, receive at least 35 hours, uninterrupted rest a week and take four weeks' annual paid leave.

Trust personnel director Ron Jones said that implementation was still being discussed, but the trust felt it should adopt its key features as 'an extension of our commitment to good management practice'.

He said: 'We all accept that the directive is about securing healthy and good working conditions in the health service and society in general.

'We felt that as a contribution we should do something about it before we were told to.'

Mr Jones said the trust was not expecting to incur extra costs.

Unions welcomed the agreement. The Royal College of Nursing said it was 'a step in the right direction'.

A Unison spokesperson commented: 'Some management will have to be pulled down this road. Here we all tried to work together on this.'