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GMC warns over doctors’ working hours

Some doctors in training are tired and stressed because of their working patterns, which could be putting patients at risk, the General Medical Council (GMC) has warned.

According to research commissioned by the GMC, some doctors may still be working nearly 100 hours a week during their busiest shifts - increasing the potential for mistakes.

The research was aimed at understanding the impact of the Working Time Regulations which are intended to promote health and safety by restricting the hours doctors work.

The study, based on the views of 82 trainee doctors, found that while the regulations had led to fewer hours, it had also produced more shift work, leaving some doctors suffering fatigue and acknowledging that there were times when they performed poorly.

This small scale study also builds on evidence that too many hospitals are relying on doctors in training to provide care and treatment without adequate supervision from senior colleagues.

The GMC's State of Medical Education and Practice report 2012 recommended that hospitals should urgently look at access to consultants seven-days a week to bolster cover during anti-social hours.

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