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NHS ready for European Working Time Directive and swine flu

NHS ready for European Working Time Directive and swine flu

NHS organisations are ready for the August 2009 UK deadline for introducing a 48-hour maximum working week and related hours controls for doctors in training and also for swine flu.

David Grantham, head of programmes at NHS Employers, said: NHS organisations have told us consistently that they are ready for implementation of the European Working Time Directive for junior doctors, which begins 1 August 2009. A total of 200 rotas out of 6,500 nationally have derogated in order to retain longer hours where it was not possible and more time was needed to prepare. Where a service needs additional hours of cover individual doctors can voluntarily opt-out of the 48 hour limit to provide this.

We expect that if they are called upon to do so in response to the flu pandemic, or any other local difficulty, as professionals they will be willing to do so if they can. NHS organisations have already been advised to discuss use of the opt-out with key staff where that might be needed as part of their flu pandemic preparations. It remains appropriate that outside of exceptional or emergency circumstances doctors, like other health professionals, and their patients, should be protected by the reasonable controls on working hours set out in the Working Time Regulations.

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