Doctors should not be made to work for more than 12 hours, orders Delhi government

While this may prove to be a good move for quality healthcare, a lot will have to be done to ensure its implementation

 
By Vijdan Saleem
Published: Friday 27 March 2015

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Taking note of the strenuous schedule that resident doctors across hospitals in Delhi are made to follow, the state government has decided to take some measures. Delhi’s Health and Family Welfare Department has sent a notice to hospitals, making it compulsory for hospital administration to prepare a prior-duty roster for resident doctors in such a way that they are not put on clinical duties for more than 12 hours a day.

The circular also states that all directors, medical superintendents and heads of all clinical departments in various hospitals and institutions should not assign continuous duties across multiple shifts to resident doctors. This practice should be stopped forthwith and a new duty roster for such residents should be prepared.

The order further states that only in exceptional cases, the directors or medical superintendents will have the power to extend the duty hours to beyond 12. Working hours in any case, however, cannot exceed 17 hrs.  In all such cases, the superintendent or the director should inform the secretary of health and family welfare department.

Implementing the order?

While this may prove to be a good move for quality healthcare, a lot will have to be done to ensure its implementation. "The policy makers should think about increasing the workforce and focus on creating more posts for residents. This is important as the number of residents is less and most of them are overloaded,” says Shakeeb A Lone, member of the Residents Doctors Association, Maulana Azad Medical College. “In order to ensure the proposed number of working hours, the number has to be increased,” he adds.

Audit the referrals

Tertiary hospitals face huge influx of patients due to weak primary healthcare system that puts overload on the resident doctors.

"Unless there is an audit of the referrals doctors will have to face hardships of long working hours." says Lone.

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