The Patients Association has this week pledged its support to ‘Fight Fatigue’, a campaign that aims to raise awareness of the safety risks that arise from fatigue among NHS clinicians and professionals. A joint initiative of the Association of Anaesthetists, the Royal College of Anaesthetists and the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine, the Fight Fatigue campaign was launched last year in response to the tragic death of a trainee anaesthetist who died while driving home tired after a night shift.

In addition, a survey of over 2,000 anaesthetic trainees found that nearly three quarters of respondents reported that fatigue had a negative effect on their physical health or psychological wellbeing. The Fight Fatigue campaign calls for protected rest breaks, a national minimum standard of rest facilities, and better rota planning for doctors.

Rachel Power, Chief Executive of the Patients Association, said: “We are very pleased to support this important campaign highlighting the danger that fatigue poses to patients. Well-rested healthcare professionals are better able to provide quality safe care to their patients. NHS staff often go above and beyond the call of duty for their patients, and it’s vital that these healthcare professionals are supported to deliver the best possible care. We look forward to working with the Association of Anaesthetists and their partners to effect positive changes to working conditions for all staff working in the health service.”

Association of Anaesthetists President and Consultant Anaesthetist at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Dr Kathleen Ferguson, said: “I’m delighted that the Patients Association is officially supporting our Fight Fatigue campaign and we look forward to working with the organisation to help us raise awareness of the issues related to fatigue amongst healthcare staff and the direct impact this can have on patients. We want to change attitudes across the NHS to ensure everyone understands the risks of fatigue and how to mitigate against them.  We hope that by taking responsibility collectively for making changes to working practice, we can improve working conditions for all staff which will in turn benefit patient care.

“As momentum for our campaign grows, we now have increasing support from a wide range of organisations and specialties within and outside of the NHS. We also have support from MPs across the political spectrum at Westminster and the devolved bodies. We urge all our colleagues in the NHS and the wider healthcare community to back our campaign and ensure everyone understands the risks of fatigue and how to mitigate against them.”