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Scottish Government to Improve Trainees' Working Hours

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19 Jun 2014

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh strongly supports the announcement from the Scottish Government that it will take steps to reduce the pressures and long working hours experienced by junior doctors.

Health Secretary Alex Neil said that, while progress has been made, more had to be done to ensure the right work life balance was in place in NHS Scotland. In a letter to health boards the Chief Executive of NHS Scotland outlined that the following new initiatives are being taken forward:

  • NHS boards will end the practice of rostering junior doctors for seven full night shifts in a row by February 2015. Currently only one per cent of rotas in Scotland schedule junior doctors to work seven full night shifts in a row.
  • NHS boards will simplify the working hours monitoring process. Best practice guidance on this exists and NHS boards will ensure that they meet these requirements.
  • NHS boards will review rotas with a view to reducing long stretches of days on duty. We expect that by 2016 no junior doctor will work more than seven day shifts in a row.
  • NHS boards will ensure that all staff have access to appropriate rest facilities.

RCSEd President and Chairman of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties in Scotland, Mr Ian Ritchie highlighted this issue last February when he called for a rethink of the workload placed on junior doctors following the death of a young medic driving home from a hospital night shift.

Commenting on the Scottish Government's announcement for change, Mr Ian Ritchie said:

"The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh welcomes the Health Secretary’s statement about changing shift patterns for junior doctors. The principle must always be to provide good care for patients. Doctors who are overtired are not going to be able to provide that level of care. 

"The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh feels very strongly that, as well as reorganising shift patterns, serious consideration has to be given to the way teams work in order to reinstate the team principle as a basis for good training in all branches of medicine."

For further information visit the Scottish Government's website.


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