Saturday, August 01, 2009

Doctor's and Firemen's Hours

The European Working Time Directive (EWTD) is applied to the hours worked by junior doctors in the UK from today. Senior doctors are concerned that this may cause serious problems for the NHS. The bad drafting of the legislation as it affects people on call will also be a problem for the fire service. The difficulty is that, in their desire to be seen to address the problems of excessive working hours, European legislators have attempted to impose a simplistic Euopre-wide solution on a complex problem.

It is right to address the issue of working hours but it should be done on the basis of local negotiations including the key staff involved. The view of the BMA and other organisations representing doctors is that there must be a balance between the need to avoid excessive working hours and the need to ensure that junior doctors get a wide range of experience.

Another problem with the EWTD is that it fails to adequately distinguish between the impact of inactive "on call" time and that of time spent actually doing the job.

I would not want to go back to the ridiculously long hours which junior doctors had to work and be on call when I was appointed as a health authority member a little over twenty years ago. At that time some doctors were on call from 9am on Friday to 5pm on Monday every other weekend. That wasn't safe.

But I do not believe that one set of arbitrary rules about working hours which is as rigid as the EWTD can cover the needs both of every business and public service throughout europe and all the people who work in them.

1 comment:

Chris Whiteside said...

The comments policy on this blog does not permit posts which are actionable under the libel laws and I have therefore removed the post by "Erick the Fish".

For the record, fraudulent expenses claims are totally unacceptable whether they are from Peers, MPs, MEPs, councillors or anyone else and whatever party the person is. Those from whatever party who can be proven to have made ridiculous claims should be disciplined and, if outright fraud is involved, prosecuted.