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Steps to ensure doctors rest to help provide better and safer care

Posted on the 4th February 2020

Rest areas for junior doctors are to be upgraded and improved to help them provide better and safer care to patients.

The upgraded facilities will be introduced at inpatient sites run by Lancashire & South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust. The aim is to make it easier for junior doctors to rest during and at the end of their shifts.

Around £60,000 has been received from Health Education England for the improvements. The funding has been allocated as part of a national drive to improve the staff wellbeing and ensure they are not fatigued in the delivery of high quality care.

Dr Gareth Thomas, Director of Medication Education at Lancashire & South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“The effects of fatigue are not simply a case of being tired. A lack of sleep diminishes cognitive and psychomotor skills, which in turn increases the likelihood of clinical errors and occupational accidents. Many of our junior doctors are placed with us from Merseyside, Greater Manchester and across Lancashire and South Cumbria and there is a real risk of serious accidents if they have to drive home exhausted.

“We have worked closely with the British Medical Association (BMA) over the last couple of years on a number of pieces of work which have been recognised nationally. This includes upgrades to the junior doctor rooms, educational sessions dedicated to fatigue and wellbeing for both junior doctors and their supervisors and we have purchased laptops for the junior doctors to enable more flexible working, particularly out of hours. Having a dedicated rest facility makes it easier for our junior doctors to get that rest time that they need at the end of their shift. It is essential that we care for those who care for others and we really appreciate getting this funding to support the well-being of our future medics. This can only be positive for delivering high quality patient care and recruiting the very best people to work in the Trust.”

The rest facilities will be available across all inpatient sites run by the Trust. Located away from the wards, the rest rooms provide a space where junior doctors can take time out to relax, eat and get some sleep after their on call.

The BMA continues to highlight the importance of getting an adequate rest and the junior doctors committee produced a Fatigue and Facilities Charter along with guidance for trusts to help them to ensure they are taking the right measures to support junior doctors.

Following the publication of the charter in 2018, the Department of Health and Social Care confirmed that it would support doctors with £10 million to improve working conditions in hospitals across the country.  Since then Health Education England have been working with the BMA to fairly allocate the funding across the country.  All NHS hospital trusts in England will receive £30,000; a total of £6.3 million, with the remaining balance being shared among those hospitals who are in greater needed of investment.