The European Working Time Directive needs ‘common sense’ to reflect modern ways of working, the NHS Confederation’s European Office suggests, as it prepares to negotiate changes to legislation with employer and trade union representatives.

These changes must improve the way legislation is implemented, as currently this can actually negatively affect patient care. The Directive must reconcile the need for workers to have adequate rest, with the need for flexibility about how working time rules are implemented on the ground.

The NHS should also be allowed more flexibility in implementing the Directive, to take into account local needs and practices, the Confederation suggests.

Elisabetta Zanon, director of the NHS Confederation’s European Office, said: “This legislation needs a modern approach that fits in with the way our health service works. The NHS provides a large chunk of its care on a 24-hour basis. So it is only right that there should be flexibility about how the rules are applied.

“Patient safety must always be the top priority of the NHS. It is in no one's interest to have overworked, tired doctors. Politicians have tried and failed so far to find a sensible solution, and these negotiations provide an opportunity for people who are in touch with the issues on a daily basis to reach a common-sense agreement, delivering the best outcome for staff and patients, and allowing the NHS to provide a 21st century service.”

Author's Bio: 

Roy Rowlands writes for National Health Executive an essential guide to health service managers offering a wide view of healthcare news, views and opinions