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Government commits £10m to doctors’ rest facilities

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l2233 (Published 16 May 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l2233
  1. Abi Rimmer
  1. The BMJ

All hospital trusts in England will receive £30 000 from the government to expand and improve their rest spaces for doctors, and hospitals in the greatest need will receive extra support, the BMA has said.

Patient care was being placed at risk, the association said, if doctors providing care around the clock did not have somewhere to rest.

The Department of Health and Social Care has now confirmed that 92 trusts in England will receive £30 000 in 2019-20 to help improve facilities, and 122 trusts defined as having a greater need will each receive £60 833.

The trusts were identified using data from the Care Quality Commission, NHS Employers, Health Education England’s postgraduate dean, and a BMA audit of compliance with its Fatigue and Facilities charter, which was published in March 2018.1

All hospital trusts in England have signed up to the charter, which outlines steps that they can take to improve facilities, such as by providing hot food and offering sleep facilities for resident on-call doctors free of charge.

“Fundamentally unsafe”

The funding will be held centrally by Health Education England, and trusts will have to work with their junior doctor forums to decide how this will be spent. The funding is an early outcome of the junior doctors’ contract review.

Rowan Gossedge, chair of the BMA’s East of England junior doctors committee and its lead on the Fatigue and Facilities charter, said that he was delighted about the funding. “It’s incredible, the difference that a quiet room, some comfy chairs and beds, or even just a functioning kitchen and dining area can make to the wellbeing of doctors,” he said. “After all, a rested doctor is a safe doctor.”

He said that some doctors were currently being charged to rent blankets and were forced to rest in chairs or on office floors. “Others are forced to grab five minutes’ rest in their cars, in a car park where they have had to pay to park—simply because there is nowhere for them to rest, refresh, and reflect, away from the intense environment of the ward,” he said.

Gossedge added that many doctors often had nowhere to rest or sleep before their commute home after a long and stressful night shift. “That is morally wrong and fundamentally unsafe,” he said.

Jeeves Wijesuriya, chair of the BMA junior doctors committee, said that improving the working environment was a key driver in retaining NHS staff.

He said, “While there is a still a long way to go to alleviating the enormous pressure on juniors and achieving the work-life balance, a commitment of this kind is a significant step which we hope will start to make stories of doctors being injured or worse when driving home after long shifts a thing of the past.”

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