Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Working time directive

It seems that waiting times for surgery are on the increase, and this is being blamed on the cut in trainees hours in accordance with the working time directive. This a classical case of “post hoc, ergo propter hoc” and is typical journalistic hype. 

My perception from the front line is that lists are as full as ever and operating theatres are rarely idle. There has been a steady increase in workload going back some years now which has been accommodated by the increased commitment and efficiency of surgeons, anaesthetists and theatre staff. Waiting list initiative work in evening and weekend sessions have also in the past helped, but due to financial constraints these are now drying up. All that has happened is that the ability of the system to accommodate the spiralling workload has reached it’s limit.

I remember working 80 to 100 hour weeks as a trainee and in my view the WTD is long overdue. Those dinosaurs who wish to go back to those times should perhaps start producing evidence of their claims rather than shroud waving anecdotes.


  1. It makes me physically ill when people say that doctors don't work enough hours etc. I overheard a patient tell his consultant that he was "lazy" because some CTPA results were not back yet or reported on the computer. As if he could keep up with a doctor's pace.

  2. One by-product of the EWTD is that on nights out doctors now behave and stay (relatively) sober. In the past they would get hammered - work hard, play hard, but now they are a bit boring. Ah well, perhaps I am just getting old.

  3. Ah...... Just realised, that did not come over quite as I had meant it, sorry.
    I am getting old and I miss the old nights out but I am the one being boring - I now have nothing in common with the junior docs and am looked upon as a father, or dare I say it, grandfather figure.