Labour Research March 2017

Health & Safety Matters

Exhausted night shift docs fall asleep driving home

More than a third of doctors have fallen asleep while driving home from night shift work, according to a survey of more than 1,100 doctors carried out on behalf of the BBC. 

The survey found the problem was most prevalent among “pre-consultant grade” (junior) doctors.

Junior doctors’ union the BMA called on ministers to do more to tackle excessive workloads caused by staff shortages that are endangering staff and patients.

Spokesperson Jeeves Wijesuriya said: “Sleep deprivation impairs judgment and decision-making skills. Not only is it dangerous for patients, but as these figures show it can put the safety of doctors at risk. 

“With rising workloads, rota gaps covered by asking doctors to work double shifts, and moves to deliver more services out of hours, action is needed.” 

He added that the government must make safe working a priority and tackle the rise in staff shortages and rota gaps.

The union also highlighted survey findings showing that more than half of respondents across all grades reported never having access to resting rooms, with or without beds, while on call.