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The European Working Time Directive and Junior Doctors

On August 2004 the provisions of the European Working Time Directive (WTD) (as amended by European Directive 2000/34/EC) began to apply to junior doctors (also known as training grade doctors) in the UK.

This topic examines the impact of the WTD and explores steps required for achieving compliance.

The European Working Time Directive and Junior Doctors: Quick Facts
  • The phasing in of the Working Time Directive (93/104/EC) (WTD) will have a significant impact on the management of junior doctors' working, training and rest time.

  • A judgment in 2000 in the European Court of Justice means that the “hours of work” for resident junior doctors cover the hours of being on call as well as the hours of actual work.

  • From 1 August 2004, eight (rather than five) junior doctors are needed in order for resident on-call rotas to achieve compliance with the WTD.

  • To resolve problems creating a workable rota system, it is suggested that questionnaires be used to assess working patterns.

  • Pilot projects in the UK show that the transfer of some non-core duties and responsibilities from junior doctors to other healthcare professionals (eg drug administration, verification of death, venepuncture, cannulation) and the creation of new nursing roles, eg medical emergency assistants and medical support workers, go a long way to reducing working hours.

  • Monitoring junior doctors' working hours is crucial as failure to do so means that doctors will be entitled to a 100% pay supplement.