Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Hours monitoring

I've just finished filling in my hours monitoring forms. We had to write down what time we started and finished work and when we had breaks etc for the last 2 weeks. Sounds like a good idea in theory. Of course we are all supposed to be complying with European working hours now. I think this means I'm not supposed to work more than 59 hours per week. This also sounds like a good idea in theory.

After filling in my forms I decided to add up how many hours I worked last week. It came to 105 hours including the times I came in early to get things sorted out before the ward round and the numerous times I finished late. Even if I had only worked the exact hours I was supposed to it would have come to 87.5 hours.

So how is this compliant with the European working hours thing? Clearly it's not.

One of the other F1s has informed me that the way the hospital gets around the new law is by calculating our working hours by averaging out how many hours we work during the entire year. Apparently after including our annual leave, they just manage to twist the figures to show that we only work 59 hours a week.

I may have got the wrong end of the stick here, but was that really the point of these regulations?

We seem to be continuing with the bad old days of patients being treated by doctors who are frankly exhasuted and the only difference is now the NHS is denying there is a problem by twisting the figures to make it look like we are complying with the law.

The registrars recently had to go through this hours monitoring farce and were all sent an email after the results had been analysed telling them that they were working too many hours and were therefore breaching their contracts. Nothing to do with the wards being dangerously understaffed of course, it was just those naughty doctors being disobedient and working extra hours for the fun of it. That conclusion requires much less action on the part of the hospital so it must be true.


I'm not really sure how to start this blog. I'm an F1 doctor at a busy teaching hospital and have been meaning for a while to write about my experiences working in the NHS. This blog may turn into a place to have a rant about all of the things that annoy me about my job but hopefully there'll be some good things to write about too.

For anyone who doesn't know, an F1 is a newly qualified doctor. When I tell people my title the inevitable response is "you're an eff what?". Nobody working in the hospital knows what all of these letters and numbers mean, let alone the patients. Sad as it is, I was quite looking forward to qualifying and earning the right to have the word "doctor" written on my name badge. Unfortunately the modern NHS had other ideas. Perhaps they are trying to phase out the title "Dr". Somebody has probably done some research showing that it offends other members of the "mulidisciplinary team" or something. Combinations of letters and numbers don't offend anyone.