Scotland Junior doctor

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Call for sufficient time off for rest after night shifts

Stressed doctor

The BMA is calling for junior doctors to have adequate time off after completing a series of night shifts to improve the safety of staff and patients.

The call comes as the Scottish Government puts the finishing touches to its long-awaited national workforce plan, due to be published in the Spring.

BMA Scottish junior doctors committee chair Chris Sheridan said that achieving a maximum 48-hour working week would be challenging for a health service that was already experiencing rota gaps because of a shortage of doctors.

He said: ‘Rather than limit the working week to 48 hours, we have proposed that any junior doctor finishing a run of night shifts should have at least 46 hours rest before returning to work, as post night shift is one of the most at risk times for doctor safety.

'Restricting the working week to 48 hours removes the flexibility required in setting rotas to allow for study and holiday leave, and could impact on the teaching opportunities available to junior doctors in terms of getting a good quality training experience.

'All employers should also ensure that staff have access to appropriate on site rest facilities and that all rotas are adequately staffed.'

A report in The Times newspaper on Monday indicated that health secretary Shona Robison, who had previously said she was minded to stop junior doctors working more than 48 hours per week, was no longer pursuing that policy.

Under working time directive rules, doctors should not work more than 48 hours per week but employers can average that out over six months.

Brian Connelly, whose daughter, Lauren, died in a road traffic accident in 2011 while driving home from a night shift, had called for a working week of no more than 48 hours, with no averaging – something that Ms Robison had previously said she could sign up to.

But The Times reported that she had written to Mr Connelly to say that this measure would not be in the workforce plan, leading him to accuse her of ‘wriggling out of her commitments’.

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