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Hospital workers to alter patterns.

New ways of working will be developed to minimise the impact of the European Working Time Directive on the health service, the Department of Health said today.

A spokesman was responding to a report that restrictions on junior doctors' hours could force hospitals to close their casualty departments overnight.

A survey of emergency cover at 211 English hospitals by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) concluded that, if the directive was already in place, more than 40 would find it very difficult to cope, the BBC reported.

The directive limits doctors to a 58-hour week from August 2004, down from the present maximum of 72.

Professor Carol Black, president of the RCP, was using a routine meeting with Health Minister John Hutton today to press home her concerns about the issue.

A Department of Health spokesman said today: "The survey was based on the assumption that it takes 10 middle-grade doctors to staff a full shift rota, which we do not accept."
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 15, 2003
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