Doctors hours limit could be disaster for UK’s health service

NHS trusts are ill-prepared for new limits on junior doctor hours because of
a lack of Government support and confusion over the legislative details, a
parliamentary inquiry has heard.

Doctors’ leaders have informed a House of Lords inquiry that national
guidance has failed to materialise on how trusts can cut junior doctors’ hours
to 58-per week – just months away from an August deadline.

Under the Working Time Directive, junior doctors will be limited to working
58 hours per week – equivalent to a 10 per cent drop in their total hours on
average.

But the British Medical Association (BMA) told the inquiry the England-wide
pilot schemes currently in place probably wouldn’t report in time to help
trusts meet their deadline.

Dr Simon Eccles, chair of the BMA’s junior doctors committee, accused the
Department of Health of being late on the uptake and said the pilot schemes
should have been launched two years ago.

However, Elaine Way, president of the Association of Healthcare HR Managers,
disagreed claiming there was "complete engagement of the HR community on
this".

The Social and Consumer Affairs Select Committee called for the inquiry as
part of a European Commission review of the Working Time Directive because of
concerns that UK employers have been coercing staff into signing away their
rights.

Member states have until 31 March to report back to the EC on which
averaging periods should be used to calculate working weeks.

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