Since the introduction of shift systems for junior doctors as part of the European Working Time Directive, different teams of doctors look after patients over the course of a day. This requires ro bust handover mechanisms to pass on inf ormation between differ ent teams of doctors to avoid misses and near-misses in patients' care. Modernising Medical Careers shortens the placements of doctors in foundation programmes in general surgery to four months compared with six-month placements as pre-registration house officers in the past. The reduction in working hours will therefore adv ersely aff ect exposur e and experience of junior doctors in general surg ery unless the learning potential of time spent at work is maximised.

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