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Give nurses breaks during heatwave, employers urged

Nurses are at risk of dehydration during hot weather, warns Royal College of Nursing.
Nurse_Water

Nurses are at risk of dehydration during hot weather, warns Royal College of Nursing.

The RCN is calling on employers to make time for their staff to take breaks in the ongoing heatwave across much of the country.

Health warnings were issued yesterday as this weeks heatwave sent UK temperatures soaring above those of the Bahamas and Acapulco.

Now, on the hottest day of the year so far in many parts of the country, the RCN is urging nurses to keep hydrated.

With 40,000 nurse vacancies in England alone, the college argues that many hospitals are so understaffed many nurses cannot find time to rest and get a drink.

RCN senior employment relations advisor Kim Sunley said: While most of us associate dehydration with headache, it can actually impair physical and cognitive performance.

Dehydration affects concentration, which triggers fatigue.

Nurses are at risk of dehydration during hot weather, warns Royal College of Nursing.

Nurse_Water-
Picture: iStock

The RCN is calling on employers to make time for their staff to take breaks in the ongoing heatwave across much of the country.

Health warnings were issued yesterday as this week’s heatwave sent UK temperatures soaring above those of the Bahamas and Acapulco.

Now, on the hottest day of the year so far in many parts of the country, the RCN is urging nurses to keep hydrated.

With 40,000 nurse vacancies in England alone, the college argues that many hospitals are so understaffed many nurses cannot find time to rest and get a drink. 

RCN senior employment relations advisor Kim Sunley said: ‘While most of us associate dehydration with headache, it can actually impair physical and cognitive performance.

‘Dehydration affects concentration, which triggers fatigue. Essentially, this is not just a wellbeing at work issue, but an issue of safety.

Ventilation

‘It is the duty of employers to ensure staff have access to drinking water, the time to rehydrate and go to the toilet, and that the working environment is adequately ventilated.

‘After all, it’s not only in the interest of nursing staff but that of patients.’

The college is advising nurses to take regular breaks and drink six to eight glasses of water a day – in hot weather people often need to drink more than usual.

RNHS England has triggered an amber alert, the second-highest heatwave warning, which is made when the Met Office confirms heatwave conditions in one or more regions.

The level three heat-health alert covers the period from 9am on Monday to the same time on Thursday, meaning there is a 90% chance of heatwave temperatures over this period.

Nurses and carers are advised to watch out for vulnerable people, including older patients or residents, who are especially affected by hot weather.

Last year, a study of 88 nurses and doctors at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust found that 36% of participants were dehydrated before they had started their shifts.

From the results of urine samples and short-term memory tests the study also found that 45% of participants were dehydrated at the end of their shifts, and that short-term memory was significantly impaired in dehydrated participants.


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