Junior doctors asked to lie about working hours to meet red tape targets
Junior doctors are being asked to lie about their working hours to meet new European rules, research suggests.
A survey of 31,360 junior doctors who comply with new limits on their working week found that one in 10 had actually worked longer hours, with some asked to submit different data.
Of the 3,938 junior doctors who said in the survey by the Health Service Journal (HSJ) that their hours were not compliant, 17% said they had been asked to submit hours that showed they were in line with the new rules.
The new European Working Time Directive (EWTD), which fully comes into force on 1 August, limits the number of hours that junior doctors can work each week to 48.
Richard Marks, a consultant who is also head of policy at the campaign group Remedy UK, said the findings were interesting and should not be ignored.
But he said his own experience of talking to junior doctors had revealed that many wanted to work more than 48 hours, to ensure good patient care and maximise their training.
He said: “I’ve been asking lots of trainees about this question. It’s true that they are being economical with the truth but it’s because they think reduced hours, in line with the EWTD, is bad for patient care and it’s also bad for their training.
“They want things to stay as they are – they want good training and exposure.”
The Liberal Democrat health spokesman, Norman Lamb, said: “This demonstrates just how ludicrous the imposition of these rules are on the NHS.
“Doctors have been warning for months about the chaos that will happen in the summer when the rules are applied.
“The labour government must take its head out of the sand and recognise the damage that will be done to patient care if it insists on imposing these working hour restrictions. It is vital that we don’t see another repeat of the farce that engulfed the recruitment of junior doctors two years ago.”