The plan was for the directive to be phased in over five years eventually establishing a 48-hour working week for junior doctors by August of this year. I know that the EWTD already applies to hospital consultants but I’m not sure about GPs (maybe someone can fill me in).
I love it that this is being spun as us “getting a choice” if we want to work more than 48hrs. The crucial line in this piece is.
The opt-out means that junior doctors will be able to work four extra hours if
their employer chooses.
Excuse me? I'll "choose" to work more hours if my employer chooses? Trust me, the junior doctors working at the front line will have no choice at all. The “choice” will not be ours, but that of the managers and consultants whose interest is the running of the department, i.e. the service, and absolutely nothing to do with our training.
Reducing the number of hours that each doctor works obviously necessitates changing the rotas that we are on and the numbers of junior doctors employed, but basically, hospital trusts up and down the land have had at least FIVE YEARS to sort it out.
Have they sorted it out? Have they bollocks. Some trusts put together a plan of action regarding steps they would take to achieve compliance, on the other hand, other trusts sat around and did fuck all about it. As August 2009 started to loom trusts “suddenly” realised that they needed to get their arses in gear and do something about the number of junior doctors that were still working 50, 60+ hours every week. They realised that they would face significant fines (£5000 per junior doctor per day, apparently) if they didn’t organise EWTD compliance and panic started to set in. Trusts employed managers to try and sort out the rotas and, to be fair; in some areas they were very successful.
Unfortunately, many trusts now realise that they haven’t planned well enough. They haven’t employed enough doctors or organised changes to how we juniors work. So now we have this fudge situation whereby full EWTD compliance has been put off for maybe two, maybe three years because some trusts couldn’t organise changes to the rotas of their juniors over a five year time span.
The words "piss-up" and "brewery" spring to mind.
Regarding the very separate issue of the impact of the EWTD on the training of doctors in the UK: I’ve already made my opinion known and my views haven’t changed. I do concede that I’m looking at it from the point of view of a trainee in a specialty (anaesthetics) where the training is fantastic and well organised. But, as I wrote before, if other specialties are worried about the training of their juniors, they should really take a good look at what their juniors are actually doing and providing more training time rather than having the attitude that “if the juniors are there all the time, then they’re more likely to see interesting stuff when it happens.”