European Patient Safety Foundation backs national fatigue campaign | Association of Anaesthetists

European Patient Safety Foundation backs national fatigue campaign

European Patient Safety Foundation backs national campaign to raise awareness of fatigue amongst healthcare staff 

Thursday 18 March 2021

The European Patient Safety Foundation is backing the national Fight Fatigue campaign, a joint initiative of the Association of Anaesthetists, the Royal College of Anaesthetists and the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the impact of fatigue and shift work on our NHS workforce.

The Fight Fatigue campaign was launched in 2018 in response to the tragic death of a trainee anaesthetist who died whilst driving home tired after a night shift. 

Despite growing support for the campaign there is still much to be done, as demonstrated by a survey, published in the journal Anaesthesia, which revealed the scale and impact of out-of-hours working on consultant anaesthetists and intensivists. The vast majority of survey respondents reported work-related fatigue impacting on all areas of life and more than 1 in 10 admitted to having a car accident or near miss when commuting whilst fatigued in their consultant career, and many more as a junior doctor. The survey also found:

  • 91% of consultants who responded, experience work-related fatigue and 50% of them reported this had a moderate or severe impact on health, wellbeing, work and home life.
  • Only a third (34%) said they have access to a private rest facility when on-call.
  • 84% of respondents contribute to a night on-call rota (including weekends) and 37% also work regular weekend days. 

European Patient Safety Foundation’s President, Dr Sven Staender said: “The Fight Fatigue campaign raises awareness about why fatigue and sleep deprivation is dangerous not only for healthcare staff but also for patients and the general public. Despite the fact that each individual is responsible for understanding the importance of fatigue management, change will only be possible if the leadership of healthcare organisations will provide the necessary rest facilities, encourage the culture of rest and safety and recognise the importance of wellbeing of their staff.  The European Patient Safety Foundation decided to support the Fight Fatigue campaign because we believe that by promoting and stimulating application of the resources that are part of this campaign it is possible to contribute to a long-lasting change in safety culture in healthcare.“

Association of Anaesthetists’ President, Dr Mike Nathanson, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed the NHS to its limits. Healthcare staff continue to be under extraordinary pressure and are likely to face workplace fatigue and stress on a scale never experienced before. Our Fight Fatigue campaign has never been more important, and we want to remind our colleagues of the risks of fatigue and how to mitigate against them. In these intensely busy times, it is hugely important that we continue to ensure our staff are getting the rest and sleep they need. Improving rest facilities at work and raising awareness of the issues related to fatigue are just two ways our campaign is striving to make a difference.

“I’m delighted that the European Patient Safety Foundation is officially endorsing our Fight Fatigue campaign and we look forward to working with them to help raise awareness of the issues related to fatigue.”

Dr Emma Plunkett, joint fatigue group co-lead and consultant anaesthetist, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, said: “It is encouraging to see our campaign continue to grow and to have support from organisations representing a wide range of specialties and professional groups across the NHS. We welcome this support from our colleagues in Europe, in recognition of the importance of the issue to all those who work in healthcare. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of us looking after the safety and wellbeing of our staff  and we will continue to invite all our colleagues in the UK and across the world to back the Fight Fatigue campaign to help us raise awareness of the risks of fatigue and how to mitigate them.”

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