Most nurses still work an eight hour shift, despite the growing popularity of extended working periods, our annual survey suggests.
Of the more than 2,000 respondents to our survey, 45% said they always worked an eight hour shift, compared with around 27% who always worked a 12 hour shift.
A further 16% said they worked mostly eight hour shifts, with occasional 12 hour shifts thrown in. The opposite was true for 8% who usually worked 12 hours but with occasional eight hour shifts.
The remaining 4% worked a roughly equal number of both lengths of shift.
The findings add to the long-running debate on the advantages and disadvantages of eight and 12 hour shifts.
Previous research by Nursing Times has suggested slightly more nurses prefer to work the longer shifts – mostly because it gives them more days off – but accept they could be worse for patient care due to increased fatigue.
A Nursing Times survey from July 2012 found 46% of respondents favoured a 12 hour shift, while 43% preferred eight hours.
The impact of 12 hour shifts on patients and staff is currently being reviewed by NHS England, as part of implementation plans for the chief nursing officer for England’s national nursing strategy.
A large US study published last autumn in the journal Health Affairs concluded that nurses working 12 hour shifts were more likely to experience burnout, job dissatisfaction, and complaints from patients dissatisfied with their care.
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