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Hospital Healthcare Europe

BMA split on working hours move

19 December, 2008  

The BMA’s junior doctors committee has said that it is right that time spent on call in hospital should count towards doctors’ total working hours.

Its chairman, Dr Andy Thornley, was speaking in the wake of the  421-273 vote by MEPs to remove Britain`s opt-out from Europe’s Working Time Directive by the end of 2011.

Dr Thornley said said: “Patients should be relieved that the European Parliament has rejected an amendment which could have led to junior doctors being resident in hospitals for excessively long periods with little chance of proper uninterrupted rest.”

But Dr Jonathan Fielden, chairman of the BMA’s consultants committee, said: “Those doctors who have individual control of their working lives should be able to use their professional judgment to decide whether it is safe for them to opt out.

“Patients deserve safe, high-quality care. The NHS desperately needs an expansion in the number of consultants, yet removing the flexibility of the opt-out will deny patients access to some of the UK’s most experienced doctors.”

Although welcomed by unions, employers have said it is folly to curb the flexibility of employers and staff in the midst of a major recession.

Copyright Press Association 2008