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Working Time regulations implementation should be postponed because of swine flu implications

David Woods , 29 Jul 2009

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The Working Time Directive should be suspended in light of the swine flu pandemic, according to a legal expert.

Due to the pressure on the NHS to treat the rising number of people with the swine flu virus, Contanza Hewson, partner at law firm Eversheds, believes the Working Time Directive, due to come into effect on 1 August, should be postponed.

The directive means doctors' working hours are due to be reduced from a maximum of 56 hours per week to 48 hours.

But Hewson said: "Concerns had been expressed for many years that entrusting healthcare to overworked and tired practitioners was inappropriate and should not be a practice allowed to continue. But, that the sizeable further reduction in doctors' working hours should come at a time when the country is facing a likely flu epidemic is an unfortunate coincidence to say the least.

"The reality of lower working hours for doctors may yet prove unachievable."

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