Published: 18/08/2005, Volume II5, No. 5969 Page 7

A new model of night-time shift patterns designed to ensure the NHS complies with the European working time directive has delivered improvements to patient care, a report has claimed.

The hospital at night initiative, backed by the Department of Health, Modernisation Agency, British Medical Association and the royal colleges, was piloted in four acute trusts in 2003.

The report found that it improved patient care by prioritising those who were acutely ill and ensuring that all were treated more quickly and by doctors who were more alert.

Under the initiative, nurses were given extra roles, non-urgent work was moved from night time, and a system developed to ensure that doctors were not bleeped unnecessarily.

The NHS must comply with the directive by 2009.