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Thursday 24th May 2018

Ministers to review limit on doctors hours

2nd August 2010

MPs have said they will be investigating the European Working Time Directive which restricts the number of hours doctors can work.


Surgeons have warned that the 48-hour working limit puts patients in danger. According to a survey, 80% of surgeons and trainees said that treatment had "worsened" since the time restriction were imposed in August 2009.

The time limit was set in place to stop doctors having to work 80 hours a week, but a Department of Health spokesperson said the way the rules were being imposed was "clearly unsatisfactory".

The survey, by the Royal College of Surgeons, showed that 25% of senior surgeons reported that they no longer had the time to "be involved in the key stages" of patients' treatment.

Over 60% of consultants said they had to carry out operations on their own, when previously they were assisted by trainees.

More than 50% of surgeons said they worked overtime because of strained rotas.

RCS President John Black said surgeons' working and home lives had suffered as a result of the new rules.

"To say the European Working Time Regulations has failed spectacularly would be a massive understatement."

"There is not a moment to lose in implementing a better system which would enable surgeons to work in teams, with fewer handovers and with the backup of senior colleagues," he said.

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