Joint campaign aims to put NHS workforce fatigue to bed, this World Sleep Day

A national initiative to tackle the negative effects of shift working and fatigue on the NHS workforce is being launched to coincide with World Sleep Day (16 March 2018).

In a joint statement published today, the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland (AAGBI), the Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCoA) and the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine (FICM) are calling for collective action across the NHS to educate the workforce about good sleep hygiene, improve access to - and quality of - free rest facilities and promote positive cultural attitudes towards rest within hospitals.

The campaign launched in response to the tragic death of a trainee anaesthetist who died while driving home tired after a night shift, and puts NHS staff and patient welfare centre stage. A national survey of over 2,000 [1] anaesthetic trainees published in the scientific journal Anaesthesia [2] 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.

The Chief Medical Officer for England, Dame Sally Davies recently stated that ‘sleep is a key part of maintaining your mental health.’ Coming from one of the country's most senior doctors, this shows the issue of fatigue is a concern at the highest level. 

“The impact of fatigue on cognitive performance is well evidenced: 20 hours of wakefulness can cause impaired performance equivalent to being over the UK legal driving limit for alcohol. Is that a condition we would want, or expect, our NHS staff to work in?” asks Dr Kathleen Ferguson of the #FightFatigue campaign working group.

“The abolition of 24-hour resident on calls has seen rest facilities disappear from many hospitals, yet lengthy and demanding shifts remain a reality across the NHS. On World Sleep Day, we wish to trigger a conversation throughout the NHS to help reduce the stigma attached to talking about fatigue, and promote positive attitudes towards rest across the whole of the workforce,” continued Dr Ferguson.

“We launched the #FightFatigue campaign to support doctors, nurses and allied health professionals with practical solutions to help them to manage fatigue. We also want to tell them that the reality of their situation, and the challenges they face, are not going unnoticed.

“We have already provided educational resources and a call to action to every NHS Trust in England and every Health Board in Scotland and Wales to help them to evaluate existing rest facilities, and outline ways to establish, improve or promote those facilities. A number of organisations have already come on board to support our campaign with firm commitments to tackle the issue on the ground at their hospitals – and today is just the start.


A copy of the embargoed joint statement can be found attached to this press release

Media enquiries to / or 0207 067 1595

About the #FightFatigue campaign

The #FightFatigue campaign is being run by the AAGBI, RCoA and FICM. More information about the campaign be found at

About the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland (AAGBI)
As the professional membership organisation for over 11,000 anaesthetists in the UK and Ireland, the AAGBI promotes patient care and safety, and advances anaesthesia through education, publications, research and international work, as well as the professional aspects of the specialty. The AAGBI’s motto in somno securitas (safe in sleep) encapsulates the major focus of the AAGBI: safety in anaesthesia 

About the Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCoA)

Anaesthesia is the largest single hospital specialty in the NHS. The Royal College of Anaesthetists is the professional body responsible for the specialty throughout the UK, and ensures the quality of patient care through the maintenance of standards in anaesthesia, critical care and pain medicine.

About the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine (FICM)

The Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine is the professional body responsible for the training, assessment, practice and continuing professional development of Intensive Care Medicine doctors and practitioners in the UK.

[1] Representing 59% of all trainee anaesthetists and 100% of all NHS Trusts


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