Sunday, 2 August 2009

48 hours is quite reasonable

What is work? Well it is something that you get paid for, that's for sure because that's how we pay our bills. Work may be a manual skill or we may have work in the service or manufacturing industries. Work may be playing a small part in a production line or it may require a skill like playing football. Some people may work with computers at work, then come home and work with computers. The reason why I am asking is to try to define when we are working and when we are relaxing. What happens if we sweep the roads for a living but go home and sweep the yard? Are they both work?

Saturday 1st August 2009 was the day that European Working Time Directive prevented doctors working more than 48 hours per week. I cannot understand the opposition to these rules. The government tells us that 97% of the NHS is already compliant. Is it right that children were working in dangerous occupations in the mills? Of course it was wrong but where do you draw the line for doctors at 48 hours? I would expect that many doctors would read around their subject and this would take them over their 48 hours if they were reading in 'working' hours. I don't want to go to hospital and see a doctor who has been working more than 12 hours. I do expect doctors to work and study and it may well be that this work is for much longer than 48 hours per week. The big difference between studying at home and working a shift at hospital is that you can put a book down and relax.

The capping of junior doctors hours is for reasons of safety but we are hearing warnings that patients may suffer along with patient safety because there are not enough doctors. Another argument is that doctors may not get the training that they require because their hours have been reduced. This argument seems quite lame. Shame on the doctors for putting forward either of these arguments. They have had long enough to train more doctors, and if they need more than 48 hours per week to receive their training then the system is wrong. Working longer than 100 hours per week, as was done in the 1990s is quite unsafe. If there is less cover in hospital then that it is the fault of the medical profession. They really do need to sort out their training because a maximum of 48 hours is quite reasonable.

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