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Morale lowest for staff and specialists.

Morale in the health service is lowest among a key group of doctors who regularly work in excess of the new European limits, a survey reveals today.

Research by the British Medical Association shows one in five staff and associate specialist doctors is considering retiring in the next five years.

And it found that those doctors on full-time contracts to work 44 hours a week actually work, on average, 73 hours a week - far in excess of the European Working Time Directive limit of 48 hours which applies to junior doctors.

The findings come amid fears that staff and associate specialist doctors could be expected to work even longer hours to offset the doctor shortage created by the introduction of the directive at the beginning of August.

There are about 12,500 staff and associate specialist doctors in the UK - most work long and unsociable hours - and they are distinct from both junior doctors and consultants.

Mohib Khan, chairman of the BMA's staff and associate specialist committee, said, 'It is important that trusts are not allowed to use staff and associate specialist doctors as the easy way of dealing with changes to junior doctors' hours. Patients do not want to be treated by tired, demoralised overworked doctors, whatever their grade.'

Mike Murphy, chairman of the staff and specialist committee in Wales said, 'We are particularly concerned that Trusts do not use our group of doctors and dentists as an easy way to fulfil compliance with the latest regulations.'
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 5, 2004
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