Friday, July 05, 2013

The European Working Time Directive - a health disaster

When the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) was first applied to British Businesses I said that it was an over-rigid policy which would do far more harm than good and was likely to destroy jobs.

At first the NHS had an exemption from the EWTD, as did other emergency services. But unfortunately that exemption was time limited. Against the advice of senior doctors and anyone who understands the NHS, the European parliament voted to apply the Working Time Directive to the NHS from 1st August 2009. Incidentally one of the Labour MEPs for the North West voted for this terrible decision, the other was absent.

You can read what I wrote about this on the day the EWTD was applied to the NHS here.

The impact on the NHS was as bad or worse as I feared at the time. It had dire effects on professional training, with some doctors calling the EWTD a "training disaster."

Two years after the European Working Time Directive came into effect in the NHS, one prominent commentator said that

"to call it a spectacular failure would be a massive understatement."

No, that wasn't a Tory any other party politician - that quote came from the President of the Royal College of Surgeons.

One of my most important "Red Lines" for the renegotiaton of Britain's terms of membership of the EU is the repatriation of powers in this area, or at the very least the recreation of an "Opt Out" from the EWTD for medical and emergency services.

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