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Swine flu fears as docs' hours are slashed.

MEDICS have issued a warning over new rules limiting the number of hours junior doctors can work.

The EU regulations, which come into force this weekend, slash the working week from 56 to 48 hours.

The Royal College of Surgeons and pressure group RemedyUK have warned that the European Working Time Directive could wreak havoc if there is a second wave of swine flu in the autumn.

Dr Andy Thornley, chairman of the British Medical Association's junior doctors' committee, repeated fears that doctors may have been asked to lie about their hours and warned of potential gaps in rotas.

In May, a poll found some junior doctors have been told to say they were meeting the new rules "on paper" when in fact they were working longer hours.

Dr Thornely said: "The NHS has had a decade to prepare for the introduction of the 48-hour week for junior doctors, yet it is clear to those of us that work in the NHS that many trusts have not properly prepared for this change.

"Our members are worried about their training; many feel it has reduced in quality as working hours have been reduced.

"The future of the NHS depends on the production of the high quality consultants of tomorrow.

"This can not be done if standards of training are allowed to slide.

"Junior doctors are also deeply concerned that patient services could be affected in trusts that have not properly prepared for the working time directive.

"It is possible to meet training demands and maintain patient services."
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 2, 2009
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