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Royal College of Emergency Medicine supports national campaign to raise awareness of fatigue amongst healthcare staff

8 February 2019

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine is supporting the national Fight Fatigue campaign to help raise awareness of fatigue amongst NHS healthcare staff. The campaign, run in partnership with the Association of Anaesthetists, the Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCoA) and the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine (FICM) aims to tackle the negative effects of shift working and fatigue on the NHS workforce.

The campaign was launched last year in response to the tragic death of a trainee anaesthetist who died whilst driving home tired after a night shift. In addition, a national survey of over 2,000 anaesthetic trainees published in the scientific journal Anaesthesia found:

  • Nearly three quarters of respondents reported fatigue had a negative effect on their physical health or psychological well-being
  • 84% had felt too tired to drive home safely after a night shift
  • Less than a third had access to a suitable rest facility
  • 57% had experienced an accident or near miss when driving home after a night shift

Speaking about the campaign, Dr Tajek Hassan, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said: “The Royal College of Emergency Medicine greatly supports the Fight Fatigue campaign. Emergency departments are currently under immense pressure and consequently clinical staff suffer amongst the highest rates of burnout. We must find better ways to ensure that they are supported and allowed to practice safely. Anything to remedy this in the form of pragmatic solutions is very welcome. 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”

Association of Anaesthetists president and consultant anaesthetist at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Dr Kathleen Ferguson, said: “I’m delighted that the Royal College of Emergency Medicine is officially supporting our Fight Fatigue campaign. The impact of fatigue is well evidenced, and we know that fatigue has a significant impact on logical reasoning and vigilance. Well rested healthcare professionals are better able to provide quality safe care to their patients.

“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 College to help raise awareness of the issues related to fatigue.”

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 amongst 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.  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.”

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