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Press Notice 18th July 2016
Press Notice 18th July 2016
Our response to the RCS(Eng) article published in the Telegraph regarding Brexit and the EWTD (European Working Time Directive)



At The Royal College of Surgeons,

35/43 Lincoln’s Inn Fields,



Telephone 0207 869 6681




PRESS NOTICE: regarding the European Working Time Directive


In 2014 the Association of Surgeons in Training submitted evidence to the European Working Time Regulation (EWTR) taskforce which included results from our 2013 survey of over 1200 UK surgical trainees (1). Introduction of the EWTD, without improving the quality of training within the hours worked, led to significant challenges for surgical trainees to meet their training goals. The results of this survey showed that 56% of respondents reported that their rotas did not accurately reflect the amount of hours they actually worked and 71% felt that the introduction of EWTR had negatively impacted their training (1).


In the context of the new contract, we are concerned that trainee daytime working hours may be reduced in favour of increased out of hours rostering. This may limit trainee access to elective teaching operating lists which are critical  element of surgical training and the safe care of patients in the future. ASiT has long maintained that a significant proportion of surgical trainees would favour a slight relaxation of the EWTD to a maximum of 56 hours per week, specifically to allow an increase in dedicated training time, so that rotas reflect actual working patterns, and to encourage a culture of honest working hours reporting. ASiT would not support either an increase in hours beyond this figure, or for the use of these hours to provide service provision in an increasingly overstretched NHS. Indeed, the introduction of remunerated protected training time, as is used in other jurisdictions, may allow sufficient flexibility for intelligent rota design that improves surgical trainees exposure to elective operating lists.


Ultimately however, the mainstay of improving surgical training should be by improving the quality of training during the time that the trainees are in the hospital rather than simply increasing the hours worked. It is essential that a multimodal approach is taken to achieve an improvement in the quality of surgical training within the contracted hours. Suggested improvements might include adequately staffed rotas, appropriate recognition of training time for trainers and a reduction in the burden of service provision demands.


Throughout the contract dispute to date we have fully supported the BMA in its mission to deliver a contract that protects safe working conditions for junior doctors and patients. We oppose imposition of a contract as it implies a lack of respect for junior doctors and an unwillingness to listen to the concerns of frontline doctors regarding their patients and their training, and we continue to support the BMA as our trade union body.


ASiT as an organisation strives to fully represent our members. We will listen to trainees’ views, and recognise that their views may have changed since the 2013 survey, with an increasing number of new generation doctors coming through training and the resultant impact of contract negotiations.






The Association of Surgeons in Training (ASiT) is a professional body and registered charity (no:274841) working to promote excellence in surgical training for the benefit of junior doctors and patients alike. With a membership of over 2700 surgical trainees from all 10 different specialties, the Association provides support at both regional and national levels throughout the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. Originally founded in 1976, ASiT is independent of the National Health Service (NHS), Surgical Royal Colleges, and specialty associations. Governed by an elected Executive and Council, the Association is run by trainees for trainees.

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