Junior doctors overstretched31st March 2008
The British Medical Association has cautioned that many junior doctors have to put in long hours, without being paid, due to staff shortages.
The BMA's survey showed that three out of ten doctors are part of a team which has "at least one vacancy".
The Association said patient treatment could be affected by this practice and doctors could be bullied or harassed. It has released guidance to doctors to ask them to pick up on rota problems.
Some of the survey's respondents stated that there could be "as many as five unfilled vacancies" in their teams, which added to the amount of work they had to do.
Ram Moorthy, chairman of the BMA's Junior Doctors Committee, said: "It's fundamentally wrong for junior doctors to be pressured into working excessive hours."
He said that the current problems should have been anticipated by the government and the NHS. He added: "It's unfair that doctors are having to prop up rotas without being paid for it."
The BMA said the problems have occurred due to the fact that Trusts could only employ new junior doctors on one occasion in 2007. Positions which became available after that date have not been able to be filled.
A spokesman for the Department of Health said: "It is worth bearing in mind that the NHS employs around 120,000 doctors in England and, whilst some Trusts have reported issues, many haven't."
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