Medicopolitical Digest

Survey shows junior doctors are still overworkedGovernment will commission research on NHS prescribingBritish tobacco curbs remain voluntaryHealth secretary promises blitz on practice paperworkNurses can prescribe more medicines

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 14 January 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:131

The preliminary results from the BMA's nationwide survey of junior hospital doctors shows that 300 are still contracted to work more than 83 hours a week—the ceiling that should have been achieved by 1 April 1993. The Department of Health maintains that there are only four posts in Britain over 83 hours. The survey was conducted so that comparisons could be made with the results from the regional task forces. By 31 December 1994 no junior doctor on an on call rota in a hard pressed specialty should have been working more than 72 hours. The survey shows that 22.8% of juniors are still contracted to work above 72 hours.

The preliminary results are based on a random sample of 3500 responses spread across all specialties and all regions. The survey showed that 2.2% of senior registrars, 1.5% of registrars, 0.3% of senior house officers, and 1.3% of house officers were contracted to work more than 83 hours a week.

Almost 60% of junior doctors are working longer than their contracted hours. The majority of these extra hours are unpaid. The department's official data do not take account of these extra hours.

The results show that the take up rate of partial shifts, a working pattern introduced to help to reduce hours, has been low. Most doctors (68.5%) remain on the traditional working pattern of on call rotas; only 5.4% are on partial shifts.

The survey asked about intensity of work and the results show that juniors are not receiving adequate periods of rest. …

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