Working hours directive will put lives at risk in hospital

The UK’s top surgeon has claimed that patients lives will be put at risk and hospitals forced to close because of new European red tape that will limit the hours doctors can work.

John Black, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, said the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) would be catastrophic for the NHS.

The EWTD, which fully comes into force on August 1, limits the number of hours doctors and surgeons can work each week to 48 but doctors and especially junior doctors often work longer hours than this.

Mr Black said reducing the hours of doctors and surgeons could lead to an increase in waiting lists and even hospitals shutting.

Writing in the Mail On Sunday he said: “Unless the Government comes to its senses the result will be catastrophic for the NHS with patient safety on a knife edge, surgeons not being properly trained, waiting lists going up again and even hospitals closing.

“We have already reached the point where patients’ health has been endangered. There is a serious risk of units in hospitals having to close to emergencies, with resulting chaos, not to mention the danger and inconvenience brought about by patients going long distances to a hospital that has enough staff to stay open.

“This is truly a nightmare, and I despair that the labour Government will not take action.”

Earlier this week research was published revealing that junior doctors were being asked to lie about their working hours to meet new the new European rules.

A survey of 31,360 junior doctors who were compliant “on paper” with new limits on their working week, found that one in 10 had been asked to submit that data even though the hours they worked were actually longer.

Of the 3,938 junior doctors who said their hours were not compliant “on paper”, 17% said they had been asked to submit hours that showed they were in line with the new rules.


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