European Working Time Directive Affects Junior Doctor Training

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

A review into the quality of training for junior doctors in the light of the implementation of the European Working Time Directive was announced by Health Secretary Alan Johnson today.

The review will consider the concerns raised by some professionals that the introduction of a 48-hour working week may have a detrimental effect on junior doctors' training, particularly on the training they receive while at work.

The Health Secretary has asked Medical Education England (MEE), the independent advisory board on medical training, to commission the Post-graduate Medical Education and Training Board (PMETB), the independent regulator of standards of training, to work with stakeholders to identify areas where changes to training might be necessary as a consequence of reduced working reduced hours.

Alan Johnson said: "Everyone's overriding objective is the quality and safety of patient care. We are also concerned for our workforce and the hours they work. We want to provide doctors with a good work life balance and we do not want a return to junior doctors working excessive hours.


"There is no evidence that greater numbers of trainees are failing their end of year assessments where 48 hour working has been introduced.

"Also no junior doctor can become a consultant until the appropriate Royal College has issued a Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT). This is an essential safeguard, ensuring medical training remains of the highest standard.

"However, given the concerns raised by some professional groups it is important that there is an independent and objective assessment of whether the introduction of the European Working Time Directive fully into the NHS will necessitate changes to the current system of postgraduate medical training."

Chairman of Medical Education England, Sir Christopher Edwards, said: "MEE is delighted that the Secretary of State for Health, by asking MEE to commission a review by PMETB, is being proactive in trying to ensure that the introduction of the European Working Time Directive does not have an adverse effect on high quality medical training.

"This will be discussed as a main agenda item at the next meeting of MEE on June 8th. After this we will be submitting to the Secretary of State Alan Johnson our proposals for both the programme and the timetable for this review."



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