Reducing the working hours of junior doctors in the UK would be an ‘unnecessary risk’ when the country is tackling the H1N1 influenza pandemic, the doctors’ campaign group RemedyUK said.

RemedyUK has called for special measures to delay the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) that requires a reduction in the working week of doctors to 48 hours from 56 hours.

The National Health Service is already under pressure from the increasing number of H1N1 cases and a scarcity of doctors, the organisation said.

Though the EWTD has been planned for many years, policy makers did not anticipate the risks of such an epidemic that could impact hospital workloads or doctors’ sick leave, RemedyUK said.