Over the limit?

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 05 August 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:310
  1. Susan Mayor,
  2. Jane Burgermeister,
  3. Katka Kosner,
  4. Tiago Villanueva,
  5. Annette Tuffs,
  6. Brad Spurgeon,
  7. Fabio Turone,
  8. Muiris Houston,
  9. Tony Sheldon
  1. London
  2. Vienna
  3. Prague
  4. Lisbon
  5. Heidelberg
  6. Paris
  7. Rome
  8. Dublin
  9. Utrecht

    The final phase of the European Working Time Directive came into force on 1 August. The BMJ reports from some of the affected countries

    Junior hospital doctors throughout Europe were supposed to start a new, shorter, 58 hour week from this month. Aimed at improving their working lives—and their patients' safety—the European directive aims to reduce the limit further to just 48 hours by 2009. But despite the new rules, many doctors will continue to work long hours.

    United Kingdom: A recent survey of 100 NHS chief executives by the NHS Confederation, which represents NHS management, showed that 16% did not expect their trusts to have complied with the European Working Time Directive by 1 August. Junior doctors could take their employers to employment tribunals, and hospitals will be liable to fines of up to £5000 ($9200; €7600) from the Health and Safety Executive each time they break the directive.

    The BMA said that it will support UK doctors who take legal action against employers that do not limit their working hours to those set out in the directive.

    The NHS has been struggling to meet the requirements of the new directive, but it is not alone in failing to …

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