BMA Scotland has warned that the findings of the GMC's annual National Training Survey shows there is still more work to be done on reducing junior doctor fatigue.
The survey found that the working patterns of more than one in five (21%) junior doctors in Scotland left them feeling short of sleep at work on a daily or weekly basis, while nearly half (45%) felt the same happened on at least a monthly basis. Only one in three (34%) junior doctors felt that they always got enough sleep.
Fatigue as a result of lack of sleep can lead to impaired performance, potentially undermining patient care, and can put junior doctors at risk when travelling to and from work.
The BMA’s Scottish Junior Doctor Committee believes that more action needs to be taken to reduce the risk of fatigue and has proposed measures such as the introduction of mandatory 46-hour recovery periods after a run of nightshifts, facilities for junior doctors who feel unsafe to drive to sleep before driving home, and 24 hour access to hot food.
Commenting, Chair of BMA Scotland’s Junior Doctors Committee Dr Adam Collins said: “The findings of this survey show that Junior Doctors are regularly sleep deprived and that work is needed to mitigate the effects of this fatigue, as well as making improvements so that Junior Doctors are properly rested.
“Fatigue can pose significant risks both to patients and to doctors themselves and it is essential that we do more to address this issue.
“Relatively simple changes would make a significant impact, improving both safety and the working lives of junior doctors.
“Scheduling shift patterns in a way that gives junior doctors a 46-hour recovery period when they are adjusting from night shifts to day shifts, ensuring there are rest facilities for doctors who are unsafe to drive, and access to hot food around the clock would make a big difference to junior doctors’ working lives.
“At a time when the NHS in Scotland is stretched like never before, measures that genuinely improve the working lives of junior doctors are more important than ever.”