More than 100,000 people sign petition to force MPs to debate whether they should work Saturdays

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MPs may be forced to debate whether or not they should work on Saturdays after more than 100,000 people signed a petition calling for them to do so.

The petition was set up by a GP during negotiations between the Government and doctors' leaders over the controversial contract for junior medics.

The dispute began when the Government took steps to introduce its manifesto commitment of a seven-day NHS.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt wanted to change what constitutes "unsocial" hours for which junior doctors can claim extra pay, turning 7am to 5pm on Saturday into a normal working day.

Jeremy Hunt.
Jeremy Hunt (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

As a result, Epsom-based GP Dr Ivan Ratnayake set up a petition calling for Parliament to sit on Saturdays.

"Doctors have been told that Saturdays are part of the "normal working" week so that the Government can avoid paying them extra to do so," the petition states.

"MPs should lead by example and meet on a Saturday too. With their new six-day week MPs would get more Parliamentary work done. There should be no extra pay for this."

He adds: "As there is never enough time for Parliament to sit and weigh up all the pressing and important matters of Government, I think Parliament should sit six days/week with Saturday being part of their normal working week as it is proposed for other workers."

Houses of Parliament.
MPs may soon have to debate whether or not they should work on Saturdays (Anthony Devlin/PA)

The petition, which has now closed, is listed as "waiting for a debate in Parliament", after getting 100,353 signatories.

The UK Government and Parliament website for petitions states: "Petitions which reach 100,000 signatures are almost always debated.

"But we may decide not to put a petition forward for debate if the issue has already been debated recently or there's a debate scheduled for the near future."

Since the petition was started, medics from the British Medical Association and health leaders brokered a new deal. Under the revised contract Saturdays and Sundays would attract premium pay if doctors - the vast majority of whom are expected to - work seven or more weekends in a year.