The Royal College of Physicians 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, Professor Andrew Goddard, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: “For too long, fatigue among doctors has been talked about as though it is simply part of the job, but this campaign says something different. It says that there are things that we can do, and must do if we are to protect our staff, to help them do the best job they can for their patients, and to ensure that we continue to attract healthcare workers in the future.” 

Doctor Rachel Jones, vice chair of the RCP’s Trainees Committee, said: “This campaign is fully supported by the RCP London Trainees Committee. As trainees we are at the sharp end and have been managing an increasing number of medical admissions and erosion of our rest facilities. This campaign offers resources and standards to help fight fatigue, applicable to us as physicians as well as our anaesthetics colleagues.”
Association of Anaesthetists president and consultant anaesthetist at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Dr Kathleen Ferguson, said: “I’m delighted that the Royal College of Physicians 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.”