Trusts must encourage junior doctors to report long working hours, GMC saysBMJ 2017; 356 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j1312 (Published 14 March 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;356:j1312
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Your correspondent's article on junior doctor hours (BMJ 2017;356:j1312) does a dis-service to patients and to medicine in general, by missing the underlying reasons for the problem of medical fatigue. As a trainee in the 1970s, I and my contemporaries regularly worked 102 hour shifts. We were 'happily tired' at the end of the session yet still went on partying. These hours, which did us or patients no harm at all, gave us huge experience.
Today's junior doctors are 'unhappily tired' because they recognise either consciously or unconsciously having spent more than 50% of their working time doing paperwork, complying with increasingly onerous box-ticking over countless rules, regulations, protocols and guidelines, and also shoring up a health service whose bosses have starved the NHS of staff due to lamentable manpower planning or cost-cutting. Exactly the same problems are responsible for the poor morale in general practice and the nursing profession.
If we as a profession put specific focus on junior doctor hours, then the main culprits for turning clinical workers into glorified clerks will continue to avoid blame. These include hospital administrations, CCGs and most particularly the GMC. It is ironic indeed that its this organisation which is billed in your article as "encouraging junior doctors to report long hours" when one has only to recall the overwhelming contribution they make, and the paperwork they spew out, to making clinicians' lives a misery. And it is only when our regulators realise their huge sins that clinical workers will regain some sense of ownership of their careers and work.
Competing interests: No competing interests