The NHS could be forced to pay tens of millions of pounds in compensation to junior doctors after a software malfunction left them underpaid.
Twenty staff have won a test case in the Court of Appeal, successfully arguing that the system used by nearly half of hospitals in England underestimated the hours they worked.
Junior doctors working under the 2002 contract are entitled to half an hours’ rest for every four hours they work.
If circumstances force them to keep working during this rest period, then they may be entitled to more money if three-quarters or more of shifts on the wider rota fail to comply with the rest guidelines.
This is calculated using a two-week “snapshot” survey.
Yesterday (Tuesday) three judges agreed that the system for conducting the survey at the Royal Derby Hospital was falsely boosting the number of compliant shifts.
It means that the trust could be liable for £250,000 in compensation for the 20 doctors for underpaying them over an eight-month period.
There are currently estimated to be between 4,000 and 5,000 junior doctors still working under the 2002 contract, however there will be many thousands more who may now come forward arguing they were underpaid during the last six years – the legal time maximum for bringing a claim.