Hospital doctors 'at breaking point' as HCSA signs up to national Fight Fatigue campaign

HCSA - the hospital doctors’ union has today signed up to the national Fight Fatigue campaign to help raise awareness of fatigue within the NHS.

The campaign, run in partnership with the Association of Anaesthetists, the Royal College of Anaesthetists and the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine, aims to tackle the negative effects of shift working and fatigue on the NHS workforce.

HCSA has backed the initiative following research which revealed 79 percent of its members had suffered fatigue and 80 percent had experienced burnout in the past 12 months.

The union’s President Dr Naru Narayanan said: “Hospital doctors have moved heaven and earth to meet the challenges of the pandemic and now the elective backlog.

“The toll of this relentless pressure has left people at breaking point, and the findings of our research are a wake-up call to the powers that be that without a sea change we are going to drive people over a precipice.

“Staffing is one of the biggest challenges we face, and it is time for the nettle to be grasped on a problem everybody acknowledges but where policy-makers appear to be paralysed when it comes to action.

“We’re proud to support a campaign whose focus is to press employers to acknowledge the current culture which drives fatigue and put in place practical measures to alleviate its hugely damaging impact on wellbeing.”

The Fight Fatigue campaign was launched in 2019 following the tragic death of a trainee anaesthetist while they drove home tired following a night shift.

A subsequent national survey of over 2,000 anaesthetic trainees 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

Association of Anaesthetists President Dr Mike Nathanson said: “I’m delighted that the HCSA is officially supporting our Fight Fatigue campaign and we look forward to working with them to help raise awareness of the issues related to fatigue.

“We want to change attitudes across the NHS to ensure everyone understands the risks of fatigue and how to mitigate against them. We hope that by taking responsibility collectively for making changes to working practice, we can improve working conditions for all staff which will in turn benefit patient care.

“We now have increasing support from organisations representing a wide range of specialties across the NHS. We also have support from parliamentarians across the political spectrum at Westminster and the devolved bodies. We urge all our colleagues in the NHS to back our campaign and ensure everyone understands the risks of fatigue and how to mitigate them.”

Find out more about the Fight Fatigue campaign