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Report calls for urgent review of impact of 12-hour shifts on nurses

The King’s Fund makes recommendations to improve well-being of staff
Photograph of tired nurse

The Kings Fund makes recommendations to improve well-being of staff

The nursing profession needs to undertake an urgent review of the impact of 12-hour shifts on staff, according to a new report.

The review of shift patterns is an element of one of eight recommendations in The Courage of Compassion report , written by healthcare think tank the Kings Fund.

Report aims to improve support of nurses and midwives

The authors explore nurse and midwife well-being and say nursing was under immense pressure even before the pandemic, grappling with staff stress, absenteeism, and the intentions of many staff to quit the profession.

To improve support of nurses and midwives, the report makes recommendations that include actions such as tackling chronic excessive work demands, introducing minimum

The King’s Fund makes recommendations to improve well-being of staff


Picture: John Behets

The nursing profession needs to undertake an urgent review of the impact of 12-hour shifts on staff, according to a new report.

The review of shift patterns is an element of one of eight recommendations in The Courage of Compassion report, written by healthcare think tank the King’s Fund.

Report aims to improve support of nurses and midwives

The authors explore nurse and midwife well-being and say nursing was under immense pressure even before the pandemic, grappling with staff stress, absenteeism, and the intentions of many staff to quit the profession.

To improve support of nurses and midwives, the report makes recommendations that include actions such as tackling chronic excessive work demands, introducing minimum standards for working conditions, and improving the experience of black, Asian and minority ethnic staff in the workplace.

Authors highlight negative impact of 12-hour shifts 

The report highlights that the risk of an accident at work is about twice as high after a 12-hour shift than it is after eight hours.

The authors recommend that a review of the impact of 12-hour shifts on staff should be undertaken.


Susan Masters

RCN director of nursing, policy and public affairs Susan Masters said the college welcomed the report.

‘Safe staffing is a key priority related to well-being that we are campaigning on,’ she said.

Ms Masters added that the college welcomed a review of 12-hour shifts.

Nursing and Midwifery Council chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe also expressed her support for the report.

‘We need to take the call to action seriously and work together with our partners to make a difference,’ she said.

Government points to support provided in the NHS People Plan

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson did not comment on the report’s recommendations, but said supporting the mental health and well-being of staff was a priority.

‘The NHS People Plan published in July demonstrates our commitment to making the health service the best possible place to work,’ they said.

‘It sets out how employers should ensure that staff take breaks and have access to safe spaces to rest and recuperate, alongside implementing flexible working including e-rostering systems that give staff greater control over their shift patterns.’


Read the report

The Courage of Compassion 


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