A healthy healthcare workforce is essential for patient care. When the workforce is exhausted, experiencing burnout, and struggling to balance their work and personal lives, it impacts on everyone.
Patient outcomes are poorer, patient satisfaction levels are lower, and the incidence of medical errors are higher. Poorer outcomes for patients can impact on their quality of life, which in turns impacts on their personal wellbeing and that of their friends and families. Longer stays in hospitals impact on service provision and capacity, and further stresses the demands being placed on the workforce.
Poorer patient outcomes, medical errors, and low patient satisfaction impact even further on a workforce committed to care, and feeling they are not delivering their best. It increases stress, reduces job satisfaction, and ultimately results in many choosing to leave the profession. This again places even further demand on the remaining workforce as rota gaps are not filled.
The situation outlined above feeds a system where patient numbers are increasing while the workforce available to treat them is shrinking.
It is a cycle that needs to be broken.
A number of reports have consistently highlighted the issues linked to wellbeing of the medical workforce and outlined key recommendations and actions for making change.
Many hospitals do not have rest facilities, on call rooms, or access to nutritious food and drink.
The GMC report Caring for Doctors, Caring for Patients’ has shown that a working environment without facilities for rest and food is damaging to the health and wellbeing of staff and undermines patient care.
During long shifts, healthcare staff must be able to refuel and recharge but their ability to do so is dependent on their access to a place to rest, away from the clinical environment, and the availability of a warm healthy meal.
Employers must ensure that basic needs of their staff are met if they are to carry out their roles effectively and provide good quality care to patients. The BMA Fatigue and Facilities Charter states that employers must provide:
- Easily accessible and appropriate rest areas, away from the clinical environment, to allow staff to nap during breaks
- Catering facilities that serve hot, freshly prepared meals 365 days a year, and make alternative hot food available to staff out of hours
The NHS England’s People Plan for 2020/21 requires employers across the NHS to invest in physical health and wellbeing of its staff, including a focus on healthy working environments and the provision of safe spaces for staff to rest and recuperate, on their own and with colleagues.
Our Rest and Food campaign highlights the issue of staff lacking access to basic facilities at work and the impact this has on wellbeing. Fatigue and sleep deprivation poses risks to doctors and their patients. We all need rest and food to be safe and happy at work.
Follow our campaign on Twitter @rcpsglasgow #RestAndFood
You can also find out more, including how to get involved, on our website.