THE father of a young medic killed in road crash following a series of long shifts has backed renewed calls to cut working hours for junior doctors.

Speaking days ahead of the sixth anniversary of his daughter’s death, Brian Connelly branded the onerous shift patterns for young medical staff a "national scandal" and lent his voice to calls by an incoming British Medical Association boss to ensure junior doctors secured two days off after a run of night shifts.

As well as improved working hours, Dr Adam Collins, the new chair of BMA Scotland's Junior Doctors Committee, is also asking for more beds in hospitals so medics can enjoy proper rest as well as greater access to nutritious hot meals – including the return of the doctors' mess.

A new group has been set up to liaise with ministers about improving junior doctors working patterns after a number of deaths including that of Lauren Connelly, who died as she drove home after a 12-hour shift at Inverclyde Royal Hospital in Renfrewshire.

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It is thought the 23-year-old may have lost control of the car after falling asleep at the wheel on the M8 six years ago.

Ms Connelly was seven weeks into her first job after graduating in medicine from the University of Glasgow and her father believes she was suffering from fatigue which had built up over the previous month-and-a-half.

The death led Mr Connelly to campaign for a change in junior doctors’ hours.

He said: "The Scottish Government must take tangible steps and quickly to eradicate this national scandal and to improve the safety of junior doctors and their patients."

"I fully support the junior doctors’ campaign to improve their working lives and I have no doubt that the changes Dr Collins is calling for will increase their own and their patients’ safety."

Dr Adam Collins has vowed to put working conditions at the heart of his role and has identified three key areas where medics welfare could be improved.

He wants to see the fixed leave system scrapped so doctors can take holidays when they want rather than where the long-term rota allows; for junior doctors to receive 46 hours off after doing a string of night-shifts; and the return of the doctors' mess.

It comes as a report by the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh (RCSEd) warned that patients lives are being put at risk because overstretched doctors lack basic comforts such as hot meals and beds which heightens fatigue levels.

In a letter to Mr Connelly, Health Secretary Shona Robison has signalled that it was her ambition to reduce junior doctors' hours to 48 per week, without averaging. In March, it was reported that she felt this was "unachievable".

HeraldScotland: Health Secretary Shona Robison. Photograph by Colin Mearns

Mr Connolly is now pushing for this to be a commitment and there are plans for him to meet Ms Robison in November.

"They have not stated when this will be implemented and I have been pressing them for this," he said.

He also wants an end to the practice of rostering junior doctors to work consecutively for periods of longer than five days. He says that every five days must be followed by two days off.

"It's a long haul but I am not going to quit, I am prepared to continue," he said.

Under European legislation, junior doctors’ working hours are limited to 48 hours a week. Health boards in Scotland comply with this though the figure can be arrived at by averaging hours worked over six months.

In a statement, Health secretary Shona Robison said: “We’re committed to improving the working lives of Junior Doctors. In our recent workforce plan I set out our commitment to working to end junior doctors working for more than 48 hours a week. This builds on efforts in recent years to abolish Junior Doctors working seven nights shifts in a row, and ensuring they work no more than seven days or shifts in any working pattern.

“We have convened a working group with NHS Scotland employers and the BMA to investigate what further measures can be taken for our Junior Doctors, including agreeing a minimum period of rest following night shift working.”