Trainees compliant with EWTD report fewer mistakes

Publication date:  07 Oct 2009

Junior doctors who are in posts that comply with working time restrictions designated by the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) were less likely to report errors than those who were not, a survey from the Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board reveals.

An analysis of the annual survey of trainers and trainees, published last week at the board’s annual conference, shows that 12% of trainees in an EWTD compliant emergency medicine post had reported an error, compared with 17% of those in a non-compliant post. Similarly high levels of error reporting occurred across other specialties, say the authors of the analysis.

About half the trainers who responded to the survey believed that there was no effective system for managing underperforming trainees and that some trainees had been signed off who had not reached the required standard.

There is some evidence that deaneries are improving systems for managing underperforming trainees. “Nevertheless, the results presented here must be a cause for concern,” say the report’s authors

The 2008/09 survey of trainees took place between 7 January and 9 April 2009 (before the implementation of the 48 hour week restriction) and included all trainees in a board approved post on 2 January 2009. The survey of trainers took place between 26 March and 23 June 2009.

Compliance with shorter working hours was also associated with a better experience of training, according to the survey analysis. Trainees in EWTD compliant posts were more likely to report being encouraged to take study leave and less likely to report leaving local study teaching sessions. Trainers also reported changing the way they taught in response to the shorter hours.

Falsification of working hours was identified as a matter of concern. Almost 4500 doctors admitted doing this, although it was unclear whether reported working hours were reduced by minutes, hours, or days.

  • National Training Surveys: Key findings 2008-2009 is available at: [Link]

Cite this as BMJ Careers ; doi: