EU test case may lead to clampdown on junior doctors’ hours

An
EU ruling on working time could deepen the NHS staffing crisis by cracking down
on the number of hours junior doctors are allowed to work.

In
a European test case, a German doctor successfully argued that any time he was
on call should be counted as his working hours, not just the time he spent
treating patients.

From
August 2004, junior doctors will not be allowed to work more than 58 hours a
week and the EU ruling may mean this will include on call hours.

The
Government had hoped to alleviate the problem by providing beds for junior
doctors on call and count this as time off.

The
case will not immediately affect the UK because of the Working Time opt-out,
but rules on maximum hours will be phased in from next year.

By Ross Wigham

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