More organisations are adding their weight to supporting a national campaign to raise awareness of fatigue among NHS healthcare staff, in a bid to help tackle the negative effects of shift working and the impact of fatigue on the workforce.
The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Emergency Medicine have announced their support for the Fight Fatigue campaign, which is run in partnership with the Association of Anaesthetists, the Royal College of Anaesthetists and the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine.
“Sleep is a key part of maintaining our health and wellbeing and the issue of fatigue amongst our NHS workforce is concerning.”
Fight Fatigue was launched last year in response to the death of a trainee anaesthetist who died while driving home tired after a night shift.
In addition, a national survey of over 2,000 anaesthetic trainees found that nearly three quarters of respondents reported fatigue had a negative effect on their physical health or psychological well-being and that 84% felt too tired to drive home safely after a night shift.
The survey also revealed that less that a third had access to a suitable rest facility and that 57% had experienced an accident of near miss when driving home after a night shift.
Dr Tajek Hassan, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said it “greatly supports” the campaign.
“Emergency departments are currently under immense pressure and consequently clinical staff suffer amongst the highest rates of burnout,” he said.
“We must find better ways to ensure that they are supported and allowed to practice safely,” noted Dr Hassan.
He added: “Simply more must be done to reduce attrition and ensure the wellbeing and career longevity of our clinical staff.”
“We very much look forward to working collaboratively and raising awareness on this pressing issue,” he said.
Speaking about the campaign, Dr Emma Plunkett, fatigue project group lead and consultant anaesthetist, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, said: “Sleep is a key part of maintaining our health and wellbeing and the issue of fatigue among our NHS workforce is concerning.”
“Our campaign seeks to change attitudes across the NHS to ensure everyone understands the risks of fatigue and how to mitigate them,” she said.
“We hope that by collectively taking responsibility for making changes to working practice, we can improve working conditions for staff which will in turn benefit patient care,” she added.
“Simply more must be done to reduce attrition and ensure the wellbeing and career longevity of our clinical staff”
The Association of Anaesthetists said it was “delighted” that the two royal colleges had officially marked their support of the campaign.
Dr Kathleen Ferguson, president of the Association of Anaesthetists and consultant anaesthetist at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, said: “Our ongoing campaign is supporting healthcare professionals with practical, everyday resources to help change attitudes and improve working environments.
“We look forward to working with members of the royal colleges to help raise awareness of the issues related to fatigue,” she added.
The association said it will be reaching out to other royal colleges and organisations as the campaign goes on.