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NHS is not ready for a 48 hour working week

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 25 May 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:1235
  1. Rhona MacDonald
  1. BMJ

    Health minister John Hutton admitted last week that the government did not have a strategy in place to deal with the introduction of the European working time directive, due to be incorporated into UK law by 2004.

    The government is particularly worried about a recent ruling from the European Court of Justice, which included in the definition of “work” any time that a doctor is at his or her employer's disposal, including time that he or she is asleep, but resident in the hospital. This is thought likely to have huge implications, particularly for small hospitals.

    “We don't have a strategy in place. I don't have solutions,” he told delegates last week at a conference on the European working time directive organised by the BMA's Junior Doctors Committee.

    The directive, which includes the clause that doctors in training work a maximum of 48 hours a week, will be …

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