To assess the views of trainees and trainers of the impact of the European Working Time Directive (EWTD). The study was conducted in two stages. First, a qualitative survey of trainees and trainers in the Oxford Deanery was carried out on the positive and negative aspects of the EWTD to identify key areas. Second, a self-completed questionnaire was developed separately for trainees and trainers and the results collated. Twenty trainers and nineteen trainees took part in the study.
About 70% of trainees and trainers were aware of the EWTD objectives. Ninety per cent of trainers and 30% of trainees believed that the introduction of the EWTD was a negative development. Compared with 42% of trainees, 80% of trainers believed that the EWTD had not improved the quality of care and instead had a negative effect on doctor–patient alliance and continuity of care. Although 53% of trainees believed that the quality of training was not compromised by the introduction of the EWTD, 84% of trainers thought otherwise. Less hands-on experience and some doctors' roles being given to other professionals were the most stated negative impacts of the EWTD on the quality of doctors' training. Positive effects of the EWTD from both trainees' and trainers' points of view were a better work-life balance and less burnout for junior doctors.
The EWTD may not have been successful in achieving all of its intended objectives. Further studies on different sample groups would help clarify the wider impact of the EWTD.
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