Doctors sound the alarm on long shifts

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Representative for doctors sounds the alarm on long, demanding spells without rest

Representative for younger doctors at Oslo University Hospital sounds the alarm about doctors’ working conditions and fears for patient safety.


– We are experiencing such a high workload that we are almost unable to eat, go to the toilet or rest during a 19-hour shift. Many of my colleagues are not looking forward to go to work. They are afraid of making mistakes, says Anniken Riise Elnes to Dagens Næringsliv.

She is the main representative for 1,100 younger doctors at Oslo University Hospital (OUS). Elne believes the situation is on the verge of being irresponsible, but tells the newspaper that it does not seem to worry the management.

The doctors have a large number of exceptions from the Working Environment Act regarding long shifts and free time between shifts. Doctors are allowed to work for up to 19 hours per day, but according to Elnes it is not unusual for a doctor to work for 26 hours in one shift due to unfilled shifts that have to be covered after a normal day shift.

A majority of the younger doctors are not permanent employees, and Elnes says that many therefore are reluctant to speak out.

CEO at OUS, Bjørn Erikstein, answers in an e-mail to Dagens Næringsliv that safe operation more important than anything else.

– But there may be days where it is not easy to adhere to the rules regarding rest. It can involve acute conditions or contemporary conflicts. If there is a pattern over time, we as an employer must review the work load and manning, he writes.


© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today