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Sector response to EWTD taskforce report

A new report suggests that the European Working Time Regulations have compromised junior doctors’ training. Here’s the reaction:

Professor Norman Williams, president of the Royal College of Surgeons and chair of the taskforce, said: “Through the course of the taskforce, we heard how implementation of the directive has affected different medical specialities in different ways and any solutions will need to take account of these differences.

“We are all committed to providing excellent training, fair employment practices and the highest quality of patient care. We also agree that it would be undesirable to return to the old days when doctors worked excessively long hours.

“However the inflexibility of the directive is having deleterious effects on training and patient care in some specialties and there is a need for solutions. One option which deserves further exploration might be to separate the training and education of trainee doctors from their work on the wards.

“This will help strike the right balance between delivering patient care and ensuring that junior doctors are able to acquire the knowledge and skills they need to become specialists of the future.”

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “The government commissioned this important work because we share the longstanding concerns of doctors and patients about the impact of the implementation of the Directive on patient care and doctors’ training. I am very grateful to the Royal College of Surgeons and other members of the expert panel for the way they have explored these issues and presented constructive solutions to address them.

“We look forward to working with doctors and patient groups to take them forward.”

Dean Royles, chief executive of the NHS Employers organisation, said: “We were pleased to be able to provide an important employers’ perspective in the report. Employers want competent staff who are well trained and supervised. We don’t want them working ridiculous hours that can reduce their ability to give safe high quality care. Patient safety and the health and wellbeing of staff were central to our evidence.

“We need a positive response to further compelling arguments for replacing the outdated ‘new deal’ contract. We believe a fresh contract for junior doctors will help deliver better training, better care and a better relationship with employers for this valuable group of staff.

“The report also certainly provides further compelling weight to the need for consultants to change the way they work. Agreement on changes to national terms and conditions are needed to create more support for junior doctors at all hours, to provide better patient care at the weekends and greater safety during handovers between shifts.”

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