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Concern over junior doctor hours

22 July 09 09:59 GMT

AN MSP has said she is concerned about the hours junior doctors in Dumfries and Galloway are working.

It follows a statement from the health secretary which said only 46% of junior doctors in the area complied with the new European Working Time Directive.

Dumfries MSP Elaine Murray said it could be due to the geography of the region and a change in funding.

NHS Dumfries and Galloway said it was committed to enabling all junior doctors work and train safely.

Junior doctors are currently exempted from the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) until August 2009, provided they work no more than 56 hours per week.

Ms Murray said: "The health service is aiming for 94% compliance by 1 August, but it would seem rather a tall order for Dumfries and Galloway to get from 46% to 94% in such a short period of time.

"It may be a problem with the recruitment of junior doctors, because other rural areas have got similar problems."

She added that another reason could be the withdrawal of the Arbuthnott formula for distributing funds to health boards, which Ms Murray said recognised that the provision of health services was more expensive in rural areas.

'Trained doctors'

In response, NHS Dumfries and Galloway said it was currently 100% compliant with the present standards, and that plans were in place to ensure that the new working time directive rules were met in full from the beginning of next month.

A spokesman said: "Plans in place include shared rotas, support from non-medical staff such as advanced nurse practitioners, and moving from an on-call system to a system where full shifts are worked.

"We are confident that these plans will produce 100% compliance with the EWTD from the beginning of August.

"In addition, the NHS Board confirmed an investment of £800,000 in the recruitment of medical staff. This investment is being used to increase our medical staffing, specifically with trained doctors rather than doctors in training."

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