Paging Dr. Slacker

Would you like to earn more money in your spare time?  Why not become a doctor?  That’s what its come to in Britain:

The [National Health Service] faces serious problems in the coming year when a European law comes into effect limiting the working hours of junior doctors, the British Medical Association has warned.

Junior doctors who are training to become consultants are currently allowed to work up to 56 hours a week, but from 1 August the European working time directive will cap it at 48 hours.

According to the [British Medical Association], almost half of junior doctors this year in England were working hours that would have breached the new limit. Hospital trusts could be fined up to £5,000 for each infringement.

The BMA says it is glad it will no longer have exhausted doctors…

Fifty-six hours a week for a resident, exhausting?!  This is madness.  As I’ve posted before, devoting long hours in residency (or Britain’s equivalent to residency) is necessary for physicians in training to obtain both the knowledge and experience needed to practice medicine, as well as to develop the work habits that lead to high quality patient care and successful business practice such as staying at the office or in the hospital until the work is done.  But in Britain’s Orwellian doublethink world of health care, failure is success:

The Department of Health said that half of all doctors in training are now working a 48-hour week.

“NHS staff have achieved this progress through reforming outdated working practices and recruitment,” it said.

“The number of doctors in training has risen by 50% since 1997 and the number of medical school graduates has increased by 70%.”

So “success” is defined as getting the same amount of work done by hiring a lot more people and working them each far fewer hours?  Will doctors — if we may still deign to call the medical personnel of this system by that honorable title — eventually work 40 or 30 or even 20 hours a week in residency?  Will residency be extended over the course of a decade?

Being a doctor means taking care of patients and, if one is in private practice, of one’s business.  It has little if anything to do with getting out the door “on time”.  The practice of medicine is not for the hobbyist.

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