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Comment on GMC research on Working Time Regulations

14 February 2013

Commenting on the General Medical Council Research Report on the impact of the Working Time Regulations on medical education and training, Professor Norman Williams, President of the Royal College of Surgeons said:

"The GMC research published today into the impact of working time restrictions on medical education and training echoes what we have been saying for some time - the current system isn’t working and is jeopardising patient safety.

Surveys of surgical trainees and consultants by the College and the Association of Surgeons in Training, since the introduction of EWTD in 2009, have shown alarm at the increasing fragmentation of care and the impact on training. We know in surgery that surgeons need the time in theatre and clinics and cannot learn solely from text books. The impact of these regulations is disproportionate on the surgical profession.

It is patently clear that the slavish adherence to these regulations is undermining professionalism. The 48-hour straitjacket has led to too many unnecessary handovers and has resulted in a fragmentation of patient care. These points collide to hamper patient safety. We don’t need a complete reversal of policy with a return to 100 hour weeks, but an end to the fixation on number of working hours, in favour of greater flexibility would allow for greater continuity of care."

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