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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 August, 2004, 09:14 GMT 10:14 UK
Night nurses take doctors' place
Medway Maritime Hospital
Nurses will take over the role of doctors during night shifts
A Kent hospital is using nurses to care for patients overnight to cut down on the hours worked by its junior doctors.

The decision by managers at the Medway Maritime Hospital is in response to new European Union working time directives for doctors, introduced on Monday.

The Hospital at Night scheme will run throughout the unit, including the accident and emergency department.

Nurses will use their skills to treat patients where possible, although a doctor will still be available.

On call

Managers say all the nurses working such shifts are experienced.

They also hope the move will reduce the number of locum staff employed.

Ali Mohammed, director of human resources, said although a doctor would still be on call during the night, the aim was to try to reduce the number available "in a safe way".

He said the system had already been successfully trialled in other hospitals around the country

The hospital was awarded two stars following its last assessment by the Commission for Health Improvement in July.


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