More doctors is not the answer to EU Working Time Directive
“Recruiting additional doctors just to make all existing on call rotas compliant with the European Working Time Directive will not be an effective use of financial and human resources,” warns the Department of Health in guidance issued this month.
From August 2004, doctors in training, who were previously excluded from the directive, will come within its remit. These doctors should work for a maximum of 58 hours per week, with a further reduction to 48 hours a week by 2009. At the moment many such doctors work as many as 72 hours in the NHS. Several rest provisions would also have to be in place by 2004 such as 11 hours of continuous rest in every 24 hour period and a minimum break of 20 minutes when a shift exceeds six hours.
A shift rota compliant with the directive could require an increase in the number of doctors on the