NHS trusts will receive a total of £10m to make improvements to or create rest areas for doctors, the Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed.
All 210 NHS trusts in England will receive £30,000 each, a total of £6.3m, to ensure they have rest facilities to improve the working conditions of junior doctors.
The remaining £3.7m will be shared across 122 trusts that are considered to have the greatest needs, the BMA said.
The announcement follows the BMA’s Fatigue and Facilities Charter, which was published last year to shed light on what trusts can do to improve their facilities and reduce fatigue at work.
Dire rest conditions
According to the medical trade union, junior doctors often work long and intense shifts, being forced to take a nap in their car, ‘rent a blanket or find a space on the office floor to take a short rest break’.
In one hospital trust a medical director had issued a sign saying ‘rest but not sleep’ on shift, which he attached on a door to a room used by doctors during their breaks, the BMA said.
The union also said that some doctors were threatened with disciplinary actions for taking a nap during their night shift.
‘Morally wrong and fundamentally unsafe’
BMA chair of East of England regional junior doctors committee and Fatigue and Facilities Charter lead Dr Rowan Gossedge said:
‘Junior doctors work some of the longest and most intense shifts in a hospital. Overnight they may have responsibility for dozens of very poorly patients and if doctors are not properly rested and focused, they cannot provide the quality of care – safe care – those patients expect and need.
‘Many doctors, finishing long and stressful night shifts often have nowhere to rest or sleep before their commute home, when they will often be driving long distances. That is morally wrong and fundamentally unsafe.’
He added that the BMA is now pleased that, ‘after persistent lobbying’ from its side, all NHS trusts in England have signed up to their Fatigue and Facilities Charter and that the Government has released £10m to help hospitals make these improvements.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘It is completely unacceptable to hear examples of junior doctors not being able to find somewhere private to sleep, or not having somewhere safe to lock away their belongings.
‘I’m delighted to be working closely with the BMA to deliver a high standard of rest areas in every single hospital, as part of our commitment to the mental and physical wellbeing of all our junior doctors.’
In February, the Government pledged to consider the wellbeing and mental health of all staff as part of the upcoming workforce implementation plan, basing its support on 33 recommendations put forward by Health Education England in the same month.
Among these, the report suggested that all staff should have access to suitable, accessible, psychologically safe and confidential rest spaces.