Doctors working long hours and becoming overtired and stressed is putting patient safety at risk, according to a new report.
The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) study shows many hospitals have gaps in their rota , meaning some doctors are so busy they don’t have time to stop for a drink.
They are also being discouraged from taking naps on night shifts. This is despite evidence showing they would actually perform far more safely and better after a nap, the report says.
Underfunding blamed for stressed workforce
The RCP wants either more funding or an open and honest debate about what can actually be provided by the NHS under these circumstances
The NHS is facing a huge funding gap, even after planned efficiency savings. This is due to an ageing population and cuts to social care.
The RCP says there are simply not enough doctors “to staff our hospitals safely”.
According to unpublished data from the 2015/16 consultant census, 8 in 10 consultants noted rota gaps of doctors in training, with a quarter spotting gaps the caused significant problems for patient safety.
Doctors not getting enough food or sleep
The study found:
- 1 in 4 doctors in training feeling short of sleep on a daily or weekly basis
- 74% of doctors in training not drinking enough in at least one shift per month
- 37% do not drink enough water on seven shifts per month
- 28% of medics work four shifts a month without a meal
- 56% work at least one shift per month without a meal
- doctors work an extra 5 weeks per year on top of their rostered hours.
It concludes: “The NHS needs a new plan – no more quick fixes or temporary solutions, but a plan designed to meet the UK’s health and care needs in the long-term.”
RCP registrar, Dr Andrew Goddard, said: “It is clear to all of us working in the NHS that we are at a point of no return and the NHS in its current form is unsustainable without a significant increase in funding.
“We can’t continue to provide ever-more expensive treatments to an ever-increasing group of patients and not expect the system to collapse. As doctors, we see the problems this creates on a daily basis, be it at the front door of the hospital, in A&E or in out-patients.”
Source: The Independent
Date Published: October 5, 2016
Author: Jonathan Brown