• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Father of death crash junior doctor is backed on long hours claim

THE father of a young doctor who died in a road accident has received support for his call for an overhaul of junior doctors' working practices amid concerns about long hours and intense pressure.

Brian Connelly, 61, raised the issue in The Herald after looking at the hours his daughter Dr Lauren Connelly had worked in the run-up to her death in a crash on the M8 two years ago.

She was driving home after finishing a 12-hour night shift at Inverclyde Royal Hospital and in the weeks before she died had worked more than 90 hours without a day off. She was just 23 and seven weeks into her first job.

Mr Connelly believes she was suffering from fatigue which had built up over the previous month-and-a-half and voiced his concerns about the impact such hours are having on other young doctors and on the patients they care for.

His views have sparked a flood of reaction, with some medics posting comments on the article in HeraldScotland's online forum, saying it could have been them.

"This story prompted me to ask for a show of hands amongst my colleagues of who has nearly fallen asleep at the wheel after a nightshift," said Rachel Lind, a junior doctor. "The response was unsurprising - most people I know have had a near miss, myself included.

"I worked two years as a foundation doctor in Edinburgh and Fife before moving to pastures new in Queensland, Australia."

Dr Lind added that while the European Working Time Directive, which limits working hours to 48 hours a week, is technically implemented in most UK hospitals, no provisions are made for covering colleagues off sick and workloads were often unmanageable in the hours rostered.

"It was not uncommon to feel pressured into lying on your hours' sheet by senior staff, or more commonly administration staff, to hide the unpaid overtime you were doing to try and do the best by your patients," she said.

"Getting behind the wheel when you're dog tired after a 12-hour day shift or 14-hour night shift, both of which are commonplace, is not sensible, but we all risk it because at the end of the day all you want is to be home and in bed as soon as possible. It's sad but probably true that all of these issues will have contributed to this young doctor's death."

Reader Stewart Douglas, from Bearsden, East Dunbartonshire, added: "Having spent a three-week period in hospital a few years ago I was shocked at the hours junior doctors were working then. It would appear nothing has changed over the past 20 years. Such a shame and such a waste that this lovely young girl's life should end so tragically."

Dr Connelly, who lived in East Kilbride, was working as a newly qualified doctor at Inverclyde Royal Hospital in Greenock when she died. The Crown Office ruled there would be no fatal accident inquiry into her death in part as she had made the decision to drive when she was feeling tired.

The Scottish Government has said it supports NHS boards in ensuring doctors' rotas comply with the European Working Time Directive.

Contextual targeting label: 
Health

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

199354