THE European Working Time Directive has significantly cut the number of operations carried out by some trainee doctors, according to a new study.
Rules requiring doctors to work a 48-hour week have resulted in a drop in the number of operations and elective procedures that trauma and orthopaedic surgery trainees are able to perform.
A small study of 35 specialist registrars and fellows at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust suggested they carried out 13 per cent fewer orthopaedic operations, such as hip fracture surgery and knee arthroscopic surgery, in the year after the EWTD was introduced in August 2009 compared to the previous year.
The study also showed trainees carried out 18 per cent fewer elective operations in the year following the EWTD and six per cent fewer trauma operations. Trauma operations performed by trainees independently dropped from a mean of 38 to 28 operations per trainee per six-month period following the EWTD.
The authors said that both the quantity and intensity of operative exposure have been found to have an impact on the acquisition of surgical skills, adding: “These findings have significant implications for patient safety and the provision of quality training for the next generation of orthopaedic surgeons.”