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Objectives: To report on doctors' views, from all specialty backgrounds, about the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) and its impact on the National Health Service (NHS), senior doctors and junior doctors. Design: All medical school graduates from 1999 to 2000 were surveyed by post and email in 2012. Setting: The UK. Methods: Among other questions, in a multipurpose survey on medical careers and career intentions, doctors were asked to respond to three statements about the EWTD on a five-point scale (from strongly agree to strongly disagree): 'The implementation of the EWTD has benefited the NHS', 'The implementation of the EWTD has benefited senior doctors' and 'The implementation of the EWTD has benefited junior doctors'. Results: The response rate was 54.4% overall (4486/8252), 55.8% (2256/4042) of the 1999 cohort and 53% (2230/4210) of the 2000 cohort. 54.1% (2427) of all respondents were women. Only 12% (498/4136 doctors) agreed that the EWTD has benefited the NHS, 9% (377) that it has benefited senior doctors and 31% (1289) that it has benefited junior doctors. Doctors' views on EWTD differed significantly by specialty groups: 'craft' specialties such as surgery, requiring extensive experience in performing operations, were particularly critical. Conclusions: These cohorts have experience of working in the NHS before and after the implementation of EWTD. Their lack of support for the EWTD 4 years after its implementation should be a concern. However, it is unclear whether problems rest with the current ceiling on hours worked or with the ways in which EWTD has been implemented.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Open

Publication Date