Surgeons call for Working Time Directive opt-out

The enforcement of the European Working Time Directive has led to patient deaths, and surgeons should be allowed to opt-out of the regulations, doctors have said.

The Royal College of Surgeons has said that since the implementation of the directive in August patients have been switched between up to four doctors in 24 hours – whereas previously junior doctors working an 80-hour week could guarantee continuity of treatment.

The European Working Time Directive limits doctors’ working hours to 48 a week.

But The Royal College of Surgeons has called on the government to introduce an opt-out for surgeons, allowing them to work up to 65 hours a week.

John Black, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, told the Times: “Multiple handovers are inherently unsafe. Every handover is an accident waiting to happen.”

Following a survey of more than 900 surgeons, 44% felt the 48-hour week had been achieved at the expense of patient safety.

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