Junior doctors have criticized the three main political parties for failing to make a commitment to recruit enough doctors to support implementation of the European Working Time Directive, which limits the working week of hospital doctors. At a conference to be held in London tomorrow they will call for NHS reform and modernization initiatives to be supported by an expansion in the number of consultants, junior doctors, GPs and nurses. They will make it clear that for the initiatives to work they must be supported by sufficient funding.The Working Time Directive limits the working week for doctors to 58 hours by 2004 and 48 hours by 2009. The British Medical Association believes that to reach a 48 hour week will require an additional 7000 junior doctors. Labour has pledged to provide 2000 more medical school places by 2005 and the Conseratives have committed to match Labour spending. The Liberal Democrats would make an additional 2500 places available.
Junior doctors are also concerned that the flexible training schemes which allow doctors to work part time has been undermined by some NHS trusts either paying their part-time doctors in contravention of a nationally agreed pay-deal or, refusing to offer flexible training places in their hospitals. The conference will call on the government to provide central funding for the scheme.
For the first time, BMA members will be able to take part in the conference by mailing their opinions to a special page on the BMA website. Contributions will be read before the conference and a summary of the outcome of key debates and commentaries will be posted afterwards.