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Hospital consultants will have to be more hands-on to allow more junior doctors the time for training within a 48-hour week

The Government has commissioned an independent review that says it is possible to deliver training for hospital doctors within the 48-hour limit on average weekly working time.

The report, Time for Training - a Review of the Impact of the Working Time Directive on the Quality of Training, says that changes will be needed to achieve the goal of delivering high-quality medical training within a 48-hour week, such as consultants and specialists taking a more hands-on role in patient care and medical training being better planned and rewarded.

Commenting on the review, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "This report shows that hospitals will be able to manage the Working Time Directive, providing that a sufficient number of consultants are in post. In medical training, ending long hours can be used as a way of changing medical services to make services better.

"Implementing the recommendations of this report will mean that NHS hospitals can move away from their reliance on excessive working time. Combining this outcome with a consultant-delivered service can only be good for patients and for staff."

Stephen Campion, general secretary of the Hospital Consultants and Specialist Association, which is affiliated to the TUC, added: "We welcome the recognition that sufficient resources need to be made available to provide a consultant-delivered service while ensuring proper supervision and training for the doctors of tomorrow.

"While the Working Time Directive is right to say that nobody should be required to work excessive hours, the reality today is that the severe shortage of junior doctors means that senior doctors are having to work excessive hours to cover the shortfall."