Aims Taking short naps during statutory breaks on night shifts improves alertness and performance, with positive benefits to personal health and patient safety. Lack of rest during night shifts continues to result in fatal accidents to NHS staff. We sought to examine the experience of London paediatric trainees on this important matter.
Methods An online survey was created using Typeform and disseminated to all London School of Paediatrics (LSP) trainees via the LSP website and local Trust Representatives.
Results 109 trainees responded to the survey, with representatives from 28 London Trusts. All training grades were evenly represented. Over 50% of trainees stated that they never/very rarely had the opportunity to nap during night shifts. Only 15% of trainees felt their department was supportive of napping during breaks, with 30% stating they definitely wouldn’t be supported. Over 50% were unsure as to whether local formal policies on this topic existed. Even when formal policies were in place, none encouraged the taking of naps. Over 80% of trainees stated no suitable facilities to rest during a night shift were provided. Although most trainees indicated they would benefit from formal teaching on how to optimise their sleep routine around night shifts, the only training identified is delivered during the LSP ST1 and Evelina London Children’s Hospital Induction days.
Free text comments highlighted practices where napping is discouraged and the perceived benefits of being able to take short naps:
‘I find that if I am able to sleep on a night shift, I am rested and make better decisions in the early hours of the morning’.
Conclusion The survey highlighted the limited lack of support for resting on night shifts, the impact trainees perceive this to have and paucity of training available on optimising night shift work. The results have been presented to the LSP and triggered an article in the Health Service Journal, focusing on the patient safety implications of not taking these issues into account. This issue has also been raised with the RCPCH and departments around London are being actively encouraged to review their own policies on the matter.
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