BMA response to surgeons’ survey on junior doctors’ hours

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Commenting on the publication of the Association of Surgeons in Training (ASiT) report on the impact of the European Working Time Directive (EWTD), Chairman of Council at the BMA, Dr Hamish Meldrum said:

“There are issues alleged in the ASiT report that are cause for concern. Trainees must not be pressured into lying about the hours they have worked; they should not be made to feel it is necessary to come to work on their days off and they should not have the quality of their training compromised. Doctors deserve more and ultimately patients deserve more.

“The NHS has had over 10 years to prepare for the reduction in junior doctors’ working hours. The problem is not the directive itself, which is essential health and safety legislation needed to ensure patients are not treated by exhausted doctors, it is the complacency of some trusts in not making the changes needed in working practices to comply with the legislation.

“We recognise that maintaining the quality of surgical training could be particularly problematic in the reduced hours available. But there are many potential solutions to these problems, which include lengthening training, improving the quality of training available by utilising dedicated trainers and training lists, and looking at non-resident working for senior surgeons in training. It is also high time the government delivered targeted consultant expansion to help deal with the increased work demands.

“Many of the concerns highlighted in the ASiT survey were raised in the BMA’s own survey of junior doctor opinion published a year ago. There are fewer than 200 days until the legislation comes into effect. The NHS owes it to patients and doctors to recognise the urgency and scale of the situation and act now.

“Wholesale opt-out from the EWTD is not the answer but the BMA remains absolutely committed to working with all interested parties to seek practical and sensible solutions that will protect junior doctor training and enhance the safety and quality of services to patients.”

Source: British Medical Association, UK

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