An EU regulation limiting the hours doctors at public hospitals can work each week may cause serious staffing problems unless 5,000 medical practitioners are hired by the end of the year, doctors said yesterday. A Greek law which comes into effect in January adopts an EU guideline which states that on-duty doctors at hospitals cannot work more than 58 hours per week. The application of the law under current conditions is dangerous as it will harm patient care since hospitals with fewer staff members will be accepting patients, according to Stathis Tsoukalos, president of the Association of Hospital Doctors of Athens and Piraeus (EINAP). The move will also result in an income cut for doctors. At the moment a specialized doctor is paid a basic salary of 900-950 euros per month plus 450-500 euros per month for performing extra duty. Currently doctors work an average of 70-80 hours per week. EINAP has organized a demonstration in front of the Health Ministry on November 23 to protest the move.