The culture of fatigue | Association of Anaesthetists
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The culture of fatigue

It's time to change the culture of fatigue in hospitals

Fatigue is not exclusive to anaesthetists.

The Association believes it's time for healthcare professions and NHS managers to acknowledge that working at night is not the same as working in the day.

For the sake of patient safety, steps must be taken by all parties to manage night working safely.

We have set out a three-point plan of detection, education, and prevention to address the culture surrounding healthcare professional fatigue in hospitals and tackle the problem of excessive fatigue.

1. Detection

We are supporting the publication of a national survey of the extent of junior doctor fatigue, published online in the journal Anaesthesia.

2. Education

We are rolling out an education programme informing healthcare professionals and their managers about fatigue and how they can collectively reduce its risks. Access the educational resources.

3. Prevention

We have defined standards for rest facilities and cultural attitudes towards rest in hospitals.

Changing workplace culture together

Respecting the importance of fatigue self-assessment and protected rest breaks is crucial to changing the culture around fatigue.

Lengthy shifts continue to be a reality for many doctors in training. A recent report from the Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCoA) found that 95% of anaesthetic trainees were regularly staying beyond the end of their shift to work.

Despite guidance on rest breaks outlined on working contracts, self-assessment of tiredness and fatigue risk management are not yet part of routine practice.

Shifting attitudes

To make a real change, we must educate doctors, nurses, health professionals and managers about the benefits of good sleep hygiene and how to reduce fatigue. This should be embedded as part of all staff induction programmes.

Changing attitudes across the workforce to ensure that people understand the importance of guarding against fatigue in maintaining patient safety and staff wellbeing.

The resources for change

The Association, RCoA and the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine (FICM) have developed a #FightFatigue resource pack to teach our industry on the need for change.

This contains the information you need to educate with and the tools to make these changes. We want you to have the confidence to address any issues at your workplace and know that we fully support you. 

You can also read our joint statement about the #FightFatigue campaign