NHS Employers Responds To The Publication Of The Royal College Of Surgeons’ Survey On The Impact Of The European Working Time Directive (EWTD)

Aug 4th, 2010 | By healthnews | Category: Health

Main Category: Public Health
Article Date: 04 Aug 2010 – 0:00 PDT

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Bill McMillan, head of medical pay and workforce at NHS Employers, said: “We are surprised that the Royal College of Surgeons’ survey shows that its respondents believe that the implementation of the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) has resulted in an NHS that is less safe for patients.

“We believe that NHS organisations are committed to ensuring that doctors are able to work and train in a way that is safe and effective for both them and their patients. We are not aware of any evidence that suggests that the new legislation specifically has led to an increase in errors.

“There continues to be significantly more qualified applicants than available surgical consultant posts, and appointing committees are able to successfully appoint suitable candidates. This suggests that currently trainees are meeting the required standard during their training.

“No one wants to return to doctors in training working excessive hours. This created tired doctors and led to significant risk to both patients and doctors’ own well-being.

“Professor Temple’s report: Time for Training – A review of the impact of the European Working Times Directive on the quality of training, published in June this year, concluded that quality medical training can be delivered within a 48-hour working week. The report highlighted some challenges for the service and its doctors and we continue to work with the BMA, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and the government to agree the best way forward.

“The interaction of working time regulations and the contract of employment for doctors in training, the way in which consultant doctors work, the quality and management of doctors rotas, and the most effective use of handovers all need to be addressed by employers and doctors working together to ensure their own and their patients’ safety.

“We welcome the Government’s support for a more flexible Directive and are contributing to the European Commission’s consultation on the review of the Directive.”


Time for Training – A review of the impact of the European Working Time Directive on the quality of training was commissioned by the Secretary of State for Health. It was led by independent chair Professor Sir John Temple, on behalf of NHS Medical Education England (MEE) and examined the impact of compliance with the working time directive on the quality of training for doctors, dentists, healthcare scientists and pharmacists.

NHS Employers evidence to the review can be found here.

NHS Employers

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