Background: In response to the requirements of the European Working Time Directive (EWTD), a national implementation group was formed to liaise with local implementation groups at nine different pilot sites. As part of this process, a pilot EWTD compliant rota was run for six weeks amongst general surgical SHOs in University Hospital Galway. Methods: A rota was devised for nine general surgical SHOs, the aim being to achieve EWTD compliance. SHOs were asked to complete questionnaires to assess the effectiveness of the pilot. Result: During the pilot SHOs were rostered for an average Of 53.6 hours. Actual hours worked were 58.1 hours. Fifty-two point five per cent of working weeks were non-compliant with the provisions of the EWTD. Seventy per cent of the time SHOs felt that continuity of care was not achieved. Eighty-one per cent felt that patient care deteriorated during the pilot. SHOs spent an average of 2.5 days per week engaged in sessional commitments with their consultant. Fifty percent of SHOs missed elective operating sessions or outpatient clinics. SHOs attended an average of 1.3 emergency operations per week (range 0-8) and 5.5 elective procedures per week (range 0-12). All SHOs reported a deterioration in quantity or quality of training. However, 69% reported an improvement in their quality of life during the pilot. Conclusions: With this tightly defined shift system, hours worked were in breach of the provisions of the EWTD. Sixty-nine per cent of SHOs reported an improvement in quality of life, but all reported a deterioration in training and 81% felt that patient care suffered.