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Late start for shift pattern review

A review of nurse shift patterns as part of the chief nursing officer for England’s Compassion in Practice strategy has been delayed, Nursing Times has learnt.

The review of the evidence on eight hour and twelve hour shift patterns was one of a number of initiatives announced in April designed to make the ambitions of the strategy a reality.

Its aim was to identify which shift patterns were the most appropriate for which care settings.

The Compassion in Practice implementation plan said the key learning points should have been disseminated to the nursing and midwifery workforce by September this year.

However, a spokesman for NHS England confirmed the review had not started. Nursing Times understands the scope of the review is still being decided.

Readers' comments (18)

  • I work 12.5 hr shifts with 1 hour unpaid break to be taken through the day. I want a 'hands up' from all of you that get those breaks, don't leave late and are, therefore, not donating massive amounts of free labour to the NHS?? I don't see any hands!

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  • I left the Midwifery profession a few months ago. Those 12 1/2 shifts were dangerously long, and my breaks were hardly ever taken. If I had a break, the hour would have been split throughout the day. That way, you hardly feel the benefit of 20 minutes here and there. The shifts invariably did not finish on time, but the Managers always had their weekends off and finished 'on time'. My 12 mile car journey home just finished me off and an accident en route home caused by tiredness just fell on deaf ears. There was no compassion or concerns. I was a very dedicated Nurse and Midwife, always ready to go that extra mile for a patient, but I since leaving I realise that no-one ever 'cared about me'. So sad.

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  • this seems to have been a topic for years. how many more reviews are required? or is this part of an exceeeeeeeeedingly loooooooong - itudinal research project?

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  • I actually preferred working 3 12.5 hour shifts. I found the shorter shifts where you would work a late shift until 9.30 and be back at 7.00 the next morning far harder. Provided 12s are managed sensibly - that is not 1 on 1 off, of having to quickly switch back and forth between days and nights I think they work. I certainly liked being able to schedule my shifts so that I could take several days off in a row without using holiday time.

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  • Each area needs to determine their own shift patterns without interference from NHS England.

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  • what ever but management have the last say! and I know it for deafernate that it wont be your reply you are waiting for. it is a case if you cant stand the heat get out the kitchen quote: you are payed to do a job not standing around watting for praise because it will be along time coming or never!
    you have to look after yourselfs because it your ill they wont! and 3 strikes of illness and your out think about.

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  • Now that people are going to have to work until they are able to retire, then i think a more sensible shift pattern, needs to be implimented, The work/life balance maybe better for some working the 12 hour shifts, but as we all know we dont get our breaks, and the 8 hour shifts for me were family friendly as i could take the children in the morning to school and do a few jobs before going to work and even have something to eat! If on a early I could get sometime reading ect with the children before the tea had to be started. I know i struggle at time with tiredness and fatigue with the 12hour shifts, but people in their mature years finding these shifts hard to sustain until retirement.

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  • So the government won't dictate what staffing levels the wards need because that should be up to individual trusts but they'll micromanage the shifts we work?

    I work 12.5 hour long days. They suit my life, I cope with them. What's the problem? If long day shifts are "dangerous" what about long nightshifts?

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  • I work 12 hour shifts, as I am able to work and go to Uni full time. Even when not at uni, I prefer to have my work commitment over and done with so I can enjoy my time off.
    However the issue is that of getting breaks during the shift. 12 Hours is a long time to go without a break, which tends to be every shift I work. So, my employer is getting me to work for free, just about every weekend.

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  • Nurses need to be looked after, as we are not getting the money we deserve then we should at least be getting some kind of incentive to stay.
    Incentives would be to to work shift patterns to suit us and not to be forced to do night duty or day duty . Every one should be treated fairly when it comes to A/Leave. The Trust I work for, has banned staff from having A/Leave over the Christmas period, but all the management can have this time off, as if we don't have family and friends too, or even if we are alone we should still be treated the same.
    Just because we are nurses that does not mean we are married to the job.
    Look after us and we will continue to look after you.

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  • If nurses looked after themselves better, by not behaving like carpets, then we wouldn't need the same circular discussions.

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  • What about the impact on the patient and the standards of care provided during these 12 hour shifts? How is that going to be assessed?

    If 12 hours are so great for work life balance why do these staff need to change shifts for all sorts of reasons eg appointments, night out and also not want to do them at Christmas or new year?

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  • In my ward a long day shift is from 07:30 to 21:30 with one hour break, most of the days only able to leave the ward at 22:00. Some days we have to get back at 07:30 next morning for another shift.Imagine about the staff who is doing 3 long shifts because of child care and other issues.

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  • Janet, imagine the patients on the receiving end of a nurse who has worked three long shifts in a row?
    Imagine the other ward staff or MDT interacting with the nurse who has worked three long days in a row.
    Imagine the ward manager trying to resolve an issue concerning this nurse but because they are not back on duty for a week because of the long day shifts this is delayed and the detail forgotten.. then if becomes a complaint..........
    (Sometimes this is not because of the rota but because they do agency or bank.)

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  • When the long days came in patients were the last consideration- it was sold as a money saving exercise -cover mores shifts with less staff.
    For staff it was sold as you will have more time away from work - you will save money on travel - you will achieve continuity of care and job satisfaction.
    It is time that we really took a long hard look and realise that we let management systematically manipulate us by reduce staffing from ward establishments and that we are now struggling to provide consistent, safe care in a 12.5hour shift at a time when patient expectation is used as a stick to beat us.

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  • Anonymous | 23-Oct-2013 9:05 pm
    Too right!

    And I say, although thankfully it no longer affects me, the People who make the decisions about what your shifts will be should bloodywell be made to work them themselves. I think these Rota creators should do some work experience by doing the shifts for a month at least, with all the rotten permutations they thought up highlighted and worked just for good effect.

    Then I bet you, they would come down from their unrealistic cloud and get sensible about home/work life balance and not forcing bodies who can't take this abuse, into abusive shift patterns.

    Its amazing how the experience of reality can make people who don't have to do it them selves normally, suddenly think with so much more clarity!!

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  • If the nurses wants to do 12 hour shifts and can cope just as well then let them do it. Stop the mother hen attitide.
    Nurses don't get much so why not give in a little with choice.
    Re: Anon 25/10/13 3:09pm
    'Why do staff need to change shifts for eg: appointments, nightout & do not want to do them at christmas or new year.'
    The answer to that is most people at some point in their working time, whatever their working time need time off for whatever reason.
    On christmas and new year, how many people wants to work that anyway.
    Nurses are told in some trusts they cannot have it off. On my ward we don't do 12 hours on those days, only an early or late.
    I rather have it off every other year to be fair or not to ever have to work those days if I can.
    I say if a nurse can cope with long days and want it then let the nurse have it.

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  • There will always be shift patterns that suit some people more than others - for lifestyle or health reasons. The important thing is providing the right staff to care for the patients through a rota that addresses staff needs too. Forcing someone to work 12.5hr shifts who finds them exhausting not only risks compromising patient care, but the foreseeable sick leave (increased infections etc as result of being worn out physically, not 'just' those listed as stress-related) compounds the issue for both colleagues and patients. If someone can't handle the quick turn round between a late/early shift, same impact (although safe care at beginning of early shift rather than end of day likely to be the issue).
    I've worked on wards that managed to work both options alongside each other - by far the best option if able to do it. (& wards that are flexible & look after their staff are likely to have staff who willing to be flexible around the needs of the ward and its patients too).
    I no longer know of anywhere in my local area that works 8hr shifts - that's effectively 'constructively dismissed' me from my nursing career as, following illness, Occ Health will no longer clear me for a 12-hr shift, & I know I wouldn't be safe on one (despite working them for several years before).

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