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Monday, July 27, 2009

A lesson in caution against unnecessary EU rules

Over the weekend John Black, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, called for the Government to have the courage to "step in and suspend" EU rules which will bring junior doctors' hours down to 48 a week from Saturday.

Matt Jameson Evans, chair of campaign group RemedyUK, said: "We already know most doctors are against EWTD [European Working Time Directive], we just need the leadership to do the right thing here."

Let this be a lesson to all those in Europe - UK Labour MEPs included - who voted at the end of last year to abolish the opt-out from the working time directive as it applies to the rest of the economy. That includes firefighters, police officers, ambulance workers - and plenty of other people whose dedication and flexible workings hours are central to the health of the country. The vote triggered a tense round of negotiations in Brussels from which the UK Government eventually emerged unscathed, albeit by the skin of its teeth - but the current Swedish Presidency of the EU is keen on relaunching the talks, and the fight will be back on before long.

It is several years since the UK lost in negotiations to end the opt-out for doctors - when it was impossible to foresee the situation in which the rules would begin to apply in the future (EU regulations take an average of 2 years to come into effect).

Presumably, no-one imagined we'd be smack in the middle of a pig flu pandemic, for example.


Unknown said...

The longer we stay in the EU the more our government's power diminishes this is a prime example and does nothing to help our economy. The sooner we pull out the better.

Anonymous said...

Can't we possibly get out of this european shambles.
Everybody I talk to in my travels around the home counties is completely sick of the way in which we are governed, and the power which we as a country have given away all of our powers to an unelected european parliament.
When will that Welsher Brown give us the referendum he promised?

Mike Bray said...

Hi, how about living in the real WORLD. The sooner we are out of this EU fiasco the better.

Anonymous said...

If medical leaders believe there is a case for requiring their juniors to work in excess of 48 hours, let them make it in clear and simple terms that even journalists will understand and report accurately. Medical people are notoriously poor communicators being trained to present facts without judgement, so leaving their lay audiences bemused and ultimately disconnected. Come on medics, get advice from real communicators and put your case.

Stan said...

As much as I support the UK not having to toe the line to EU directives on anything, rather to live by its own rules and regulations - as a truer expression of democracy - this business of working junior doctors off their feet has been a long-festering problem, and needs to be addressed in any event.

I was a pre-med in my day, tentatively accepted into med school, and although I have taken a different path in life, I have heard conversations amongst people in medicine (in the US; thus not limited by NHS financial constraints) that have led me to believe that this business of long hours for the juniors is at least in part for their initiation rites into the fellowship - to make them 'lean and mean': ie to say, to 'earn' their loyalty to the tribe, by instilling in them the desire to earn good money for their efforts, to make up for those lean and leaned-on years fresh out of their formal training. This makes them - hopefully, to their seniors - conditioned; keen to keep to the 'business plan', of making the medical-pharmaceutical complex a lot of money, with little questioning of the modus operandi.

Health care has become horrendously expensive, and needs to change fundamentally. And that means to introduce more of an attitude of preventive medicine, and cheaper medicine; and the latter means less of a reliance on drug-based medicine, and more of an emphasis on alternative/complementary (holistic) medicine - more natural-based forms of treatment, that don't have the costs of primarily pharmaceutical products. And the allopathic fraternity isn't going to give way to that future of medicine easily, in part due to the loyalty it has inculcated in its newest tribal members in each year's intake.

Do I paint an unfair picture? I personally don't think so; after all I've heard, and read, over the years. (Many books and papers on the general subject as well. Because I care, still, after all these years.) But it would be good to get some input into the matter, by those in the profession who still have contact with the noble reasons why they chose this particular profession as the expression of their highest desires in life. And are wondering: Whatever happened to the dream.

Anonymous said...

The EWTD is nothing but political bullshit.

Let's cut the crap and see this as it really is. Nothing but damned stupid rules made by damned stupid parasites that have nothing better to do than show that they have power over people.

The sooner we pull out of Europe the better - but this will not happen, because too many polticians have their fat mouths in the trough.

Anonymous said...

One of my directly employed nephews (as different from self employed) works between Paris and London - 'in France, no one takes any notice of any such working time directive - I work regularly over 100 hours per week and enjoy every minute of it!'. Apparently, in France, a working time directive does not apply to the self employed.

Perhaps matters will become more clear when we are allowed to hold a referendum to join the EU or not!

Anonymous said...

another example of this country falling over itsself to follow orders we in general don't agree with or want.

get us out of this mess someone!!!


Anonymous said...

My son is a consultant in Mental Health in this country. Worked till he became so ill with a serious bowel disease, highly qualified with two major specialities. You are all right, get out of the EU, or stop being the only country who follows like a sheep. My son is in New Zealand had four fabulous job offers, and he is off. Why - the NHS allows no in dividuality, after Labour's mess even less insensitive to express expertise, a year in the drugs business to find out about it, and oh dear the money machine churns to have us all eating pills for food! Why does not another party have the courage to stand up and be counted and say "EU OUT we GO". Not English born but sent children here at great cost to educate them here, why - to loose my son to New Zealand! Thanks Labour! and the rest who want us all dummed down.