New Report Confirms that NHS Waiting Lists Have Risen After EU Rules Implement
Predictions that patient waiting lists would rise dramatically if European Union rules on working hours were implemented have proven to be completely accurate in a new study issued by the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS).
The EU rules, which were implemented last August, have seen thousands of patients waiting up to 18 weeks longer than usual for surgery, the report said.
“The increase is predictable,” John Black, RCS president was quoted as saying. “If you have the same number of patients, no more doctors and ask them to work less then it is inevitable that the time available for elective procedures will reduce and waiting lists grow.”
He pointed out that the rule was so ridiculous that “most European countries had bypassed the legislation by either not monitoring compliance or, as in Germany and Holland, finding ways around the directive.”
The report found that 80 percent of consultant surgeons and two thirds of surgical trainees said “patient care had deteriorated since the directive was implemented.”
A 2009 RCS report said that there were not enough surgeons to fill rotas if they worked only 48 hours a week and that 90 percent of trainee doctors were exceeding their timetabled hours on a weekly basis.
That survey also revealed that 55 percent of surgeons reported being pressured to falsely declare their actual hours worked and that 68 percent felt that their training and skills had deteriorated as a result of shift-working patterns introduced to meet the working time regulations.
At least 71 percent felt the reduction in overall hours had not led to any improvement in their work-life balance.
In March 2009, think-tank Open Europe issued a study on the EU’s working time directive called titled Time’s UP! The case against the EU’s 48 hour working week.
“In the middle of a full-blown recession, we estimate that the Working Time Directive as it currently applies in the UK is already costing the economy between £3.5 billion and £3.9 billion every year,” the report said.
Open Europe goes on to quote a NHS nurse in London as saying that the “important practice of ensuring patients see the same nurse could be threatened by a maximum 48 hour week. ‘It is common sense that there will be nurse shortages once all the nurses have worked their maximum permitted number of hours.’”Their report continued: “In 2000, the UK Government gave way in a similar stage of the negotiations, that time on a proposal which limited working hours for junior doctors — the effect of which was tantamount to losing between 4,300 and 9,900 junior doctors, according to the British Medical Association.
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