New European rules that will limit the hours doctors can work will put patients’ lives at risk and see hospitals forced to close, the UK’s top surgeon has claimed.
The European Working Time Directive (EWTD), which fully comes into force on August 1, would be catastrophic for the NHS, according to Royal College of Surgeons president John Black.
Doctors and junior doctors often work longer hours than the 48-a-week limit imposed by the EWTD, and Mr Black believes that reducing the hours of doctors and surgeons could lead to an increase in waiting lists and hospitals shutting.
‘Unless the Government comes to its senses the result will be catastrophic for the NHS with patient safety on a knife edge, surgeons not being properly trained, waiting lists going up again and even hospitals closing,’ he wrote in the Mail On Sunday.
He said that the NHS was already seeing a situation where patients’ health was being endangered, and added: ‘There is a serious risk of units in hospitals having to close to emergencies, with resulting chaos, not to mention the danger and inconvenience brought about by patients going long distances to a hospital that has enough staff to stay open.’