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NHS England cancels junior doctor rota watch


2 September 2011

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NHS England has sparked safety fears by stopping the monitoring of junior doctors’ working hours, a British Medical Journal (BMJ) Careers report has found.

NHS England has sparked safety fears by stopping the monitoring of junior doctors’ working hours, a British Medical Journal (BMJ) Careers report has found.

Hospital trusts in England cancelled the ‘ministerial returns’ previously submitted to ensure compliance with the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) in August 2010 “to reduce bureaucracy”, says BMJ Careers. 

As a result, the report says the NHS in England has no national or regional oversight of whether junior doctors’ rotas are compliant with the 48 hours a week limit as stipulated by the EWTD. 

“I think we’re talking about patient safety as well as doctor safety, so it would be really useful to see the ministerial returns back in place,” said Dr Shree Datta, co-chair of the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee.

This is not the case for the rest of the UK, says the report. Governments in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland regularly collect and review data to monitor whether rotas are EWTD compliant.

Compliance of junior doctors’ rotas is 100% among Welsh health departments, 99% in Scotland and 78% in Northern Ireland.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said local organisations in England are still required to ensure compliance with the working time directive and to monitor that compliance.

British Medical Journal

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