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Guy’s and St Thomas’ staff encouraged to take regular breaks in new campaign

  • 7 Comments

A new campaign has been launched at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust today to encourage staff to take frequent breaks and improve their health and wellbeing.

The HALT (Hungry, Angry, Late, Tired) campaign will make staff aware that taking enough breaks can also help them to provide the highest standard of patient care, by putting them in a position to make the best decisions for patients.

“Taking a break gives our staff the chance to take a breather and to replenish energy levels”

Eilenn Sills

Staff throughout the trust will be asked to plan their own breaks during the work day, and managers and team leaders will be advised to lead by example in order to create a “take a break” culture.

The launch of the HALT campaign coincides with World Sleep Day on Friday 17 March. During the day staff across the trust will receive information, attend workshops and listen to presentations about the importance of taking regular breaks.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ also aim to positively support staff across the trust who work night shifts, and teaching on the topic of sleep in this context is now integrated into mandatory junior doctor induction in Evelina London, and for every new foundation programme doctor starting work in the Trust.

Dame Eileen Sills, chief nurse at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “The HALT campaign reiterates our commitment to ensuring that all staff take their breaks, and that we create a ‘take a break’ culture at our Trust.

“Taking a break gives our staff the chance to take a breather and to replenish energy levels by eating or having a drink, physically resting or taking a mental break,” she said.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

Major trust encourages nurse to take regular breaks

HALT Campaign - Dr Mike Farquhar, Dame Eileen Sills and the wider team

“As well as being important for staff health and wellbeing, taking breaks is also important for patients as it allows staff to make the best possible decisions for our patients,” she added.

Dr Mike Farquhar, consultant in Sleep Medicine at Evelina London, which is part of Guy’s and St Thomas’, said breaks for staff were “not a luxury”, especially when doing busy or intense night work.

“The HALT campaign emphasizes that, unless critically ill patients require your immediate attention, our patients are always better served by clinicians who have had appropriate periods of rest during their shifts,” he said.

Bernell Bussue, regional director at Royal College of Nursing in London, added: “The RCN warmly welcomes this campaign. It is vitally important that nurses working shifts are able to take breaks to prevent fatigue and the negative impacts this can have on both patient safety and their own health and wellbeing.”

  • 7 Comments

Readers' comments (7)

  • 'Staff will be asked to plan their breaks during the work day, and managers will lead by example' Is it April 1st already? Am I the only person who is falling over with laughter. So now knowing my manager is enjoying a lovely break will make it easier for me to dessert my patients when their is no one to relieve me. This must be a joke!!

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  • I think this is really a good idea by Guys and St Thomas hospital to suggest management support the need for staff to have regular breaks.
    I do hope they realised you need adequate number of staff on duty in order for this to work.
    Nurses need to stop working 12 hour shifts for this to work also.

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  • It's Health & Safety at work - I am told you can develop 'cath lab kidney' ....that is an occupational injury and am sure lots of other NHS Employees have been set up for AKI...to have a drink and a break is a right (legally - in the UK at present) not a favour, not a martyred sacrifice to ones patients. If you can provide evidence that your employer has damaged your health then you can take them to task.
    What is the matter with everyone if we cannot stick up for ourselves & our colleagues however can we do the same for our patients and the NHS in general. Hooray to the Junior Doctors for the stand they made and shame on the RCN for an absence of support.

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  • ..'Dame Eileen Sills, chief nurse at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “The HALT campaign reiterates our commitment to ensuring that all staff take their breaks, and that we create a ‘take a break’ culture at our Trust...'
    Its an employment right they have a break - I am sure Dame Eileen has a PA to make her a cup of tea and go to the toilet when she needs to - how very very patronising to the hard working staff of this Trust...I hear all the time (as I travel the country) ...water coolers have been removed from the ward area (staff can't leave the ward - not enough of them): staff are not allowed to carry water bottles (infection control); they are not allowed to have a cup of tea whilst taking 5 to write in notes etc. (as the patients complain they are drinking tea and doing nothing - was the reason given by managers for this)....I am a Nurse and we have sleep walked into a culture that allows moral manipulation of our good nature, by making the fact we can't get a drink our fault!

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  • I currently work for the trust and find that we are allowed to plan our night breaks ,have tea coffee water milk when the trolley is going around.Our managers have been taking care of us ensuring that we are fit for purpose!

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  • I say well done to Guys and St Thomas'! It's not patronising to support this campaign and it highlights a definite need to change the martyrdom culture of the NHS. I promote from within the positive nature of taking breaks for both ourselves and our patients but hear from staff all the time that there isnt the time or the staff to take breaks. My advice is always the same, have you asked for a break? Let the managers do the managing. Make it their problem to unsure there is sufficient staffing to cover breaks as that is part of their role not yours. Unless there is a need to change things just carry on the same. You're not asking for a favour or something that is out of the ordinary. In our Trust, we have some wards where it is the other staff who will shun colleagues who ask for a break because it is "just too busy" and they "dont have breaks here" but in contrast there are also wards where the manager starts the shift by telling everyone which break they are on and ensures that this happens. This proves it can be done so dont knock a campaign which positively supports our workforce.

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  • I work 13 hour shifts in the private health care industry. I have 1.5 hours break a day, divided into 15 minutes for breakfast, 30 for lunch and 45 for supper. We always have our breaks, regardless of how busy we are. We have a water cooler on the unit so can have water as and when we need it. When I worked in the NHS, breaks were few and far between so well done to this trust encouraging breaks in this way.

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