Time for doctors’ hours to change

Wed, Apr 3, 2013, 06:00

Sir, – We, the undersigned, all of whom are involved in educating young doctors, would like to call on Minister for Health, James Reilly, to urgently ensure that those doctors are not forced to work the inhuman, illegal and dangerous hours that they are presently forced to endure.

It is inhuman, as it has been repeatedly demonstrated that young doctors suffer from excessive levels of depressive symptoms which have been directly related to their excessive working hours. It is illegal, as it transgresses the European Working Time Directive, which has been accepted by the HSE. It is dangerous, as exhausted, de-motivated and compassion-fatigued doctors at risk of making a medical mistake, with consequences for patients, relatives and for themselves. It has been demonstrated that junior doctors working long hours make 36 per cent more medical mistakes and 5.6 times more diagnostic errors than those working acceptable hours. It is also dangerous as it puts doctors at risk when driving home after an exhausting shift. Most doctors know someone who has suffered death or disability due to an accident on such a journey home.

Other countries have addressed this problem and have introduced reasonable working hours and rotas. This is why many junior doctors head to Australia, where working conditions are as they should be. We ask that the Minister stops making young doctors and their patients suffer and address what should have been addressed long ago. – Yours, etc,
Dr AUSTIN O CARROLL NDC GP Training; PATSY BRADY, Sligo GPT; Dr DARACH BRENNAN, SE GPT; Dr DECLAN BRENNAN MW GPT; Dr CATHY CULLEN, NDC GPT; Prof WALTER CULLEN, UL; Dr BERTIE DALY, SW GPT; Dr KARENA HANLEY, Donegal GPT; Dr JOANNE KEARNEY; Prof ANNE MACFARLANE, UL; Dr JOHN MADDEN, Donegal GPT; Dr NEASA MCDONAGH NDC GPT; Dr CHARLIE MCMANUS, Donegal GPT; Dr PADRAIC MITCHELL, Donegal GPT; Dr EMMA NELSON, RCSI GPT; Dr RAY O CONNOR, MW GPT; RÉAMONN Ó DONNCHADHA, UCD GPT; Prof FERGUS O’ KELLY, TCD GPT; Dr DARRAGH O’NEILL, UCD GPT; Dr FIONA O’REILLY, NDC GPT; Dr KEVIN QUINN, Donegal GPT; Dr RODDY QUINN, Sligo GPT; Dr MING RAWAT, NDC GPT; ANNE MARIE REGAN, W GPT; Dr SHEILA ROCHFORD; Dr CAOIMHE RYAN, RCSI GPT; Dr PAUL STEWART, Donegal GPT; NOREEN TAYLOR GREENSLADE & Dr DONAL WALSH Donegal, GPT, C/o
Mountjoy Street, Dublin 7.