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Abandon Eurpoean Working Time Directive for junior hospital doctors

Comment 6th July 2010

When I trained as a junior doctor I worked 100+ hours per week, which was far too much. However I did really know my patients well and had ample opportunity to follw them up and learn from them and what happened to them. Now junior doctors training is far too fragmented and both continuity and a sense of belonging to a team have gone. The pendulum did need to swing away from such long hjours but a 48 hour week is simply too far for many training in acute specialities. Our greatest teachers are our patients and juniors need to be able to work enough hours per week to allow for continuity. About 56 to 60 hours per week would be adequate to allow for a much better quality of training. Hospitals and Trusts have been pushed into this most crazy of all the Eurpoean rules and it is not good for patients or doctors.

Why does this matter?

We need to train doctors for the future who have gained adequate experience. Despite various reports putting an optimistic slant on this issue, the majority of junior doctors I train hate  EWTD and say it causes problems both for their family life and their training. 56 to 60 hours per week would be much better. The consequences of having doctors working fewer hours are many but with the same number of patients and less doctors around at any given time it is clear that patient safety is diminished. There is always a queue of urgent tasks to be done and there is a lack of continuity which makes proper assessment and treatment more difficult. I have been a doctor in the NHS for 30 years and it is abindantly clear that EWTD has been the worse thing that has happened to doctors training in that time.


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