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Monitoring doctors' hours row

27th March 2009

The dispute over changes to junior doctors’ hours has taken a new twist after one hospital threatened trainee medics with disciplinary action.

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From August, European legislation means junior doctors can work no more than 48 hours a week but young surgeons are concerned this will impact on training and not give enough hands-on experience.

However, at University Hospitals, Bristol all junior doctors have been sent a letter asking them to sign up to the guidelines and fill out diary forms for their working hours to be monitored.

And they have been warned that failure to declare how many hours they work could lead to disciplinary action.

In the past, surgeons did 32,000 hours training over eight years before becoming consultants but now the Association of Surgeons in Training says trainees will only do 18,000 hours from August.

The Bristol memo states: "In the event that you do not return your completed diary monitoring exercise (unless there are extreme exceptional circumstances) this will be regarded as a breach of your employment and therefore appropriate sanctions will be implemented".

The Royal College of Surgeons described the Bristol memo as heavy handed.

President Ben Creswell said: "We know for a fact that its impossible to provide a safe surgical service and obtain a safe surgical training in a 48 hour week and we know from national survey data that trainees are already routinely working in excess of their hours."

Medical director at Bristol, Dr Jonathan Sheffield said he had to make sure the new law was obeyed.

 

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