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Lack of hydration at work: nurses ‘causing physical harm to themselves’, review finds

NMC study also says dehydration could impair decision-making
Nurse with bottle of water

NMC study also says dehydration could impair decision-making

Nurses and midwives are risking their health because they feel unable to take breaks and hydrate, a review has found.

The study, commissioned by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), also warns that fatigue and dehydration could result in impaired decision-making by registrants.

The review is part of the NMCs drive to identify the wider context of incidents when considering Fitness to Practise cases.

Hazel Carter-Showell, director of business psychologists Carter Corson, who carried out the review, said some staff felt like they cant even stop to have a glass of water.

Claims of renal damage due to dehydration

Presenting the reviews findings at an NMC Council meeting, Ms Carter-Showell

NMC study also says dehydration could impair decision-making


Picture: iStock

Nurses and midwives are risking their health because they feel unable to take breaks and hydrate, a review has found.

The study, commissioned by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), also warns that fatigue and dehydration could result in impaired decision-making by registrants.

The review is part of the NMC’s drive to identify the wider context of incidents when considering Fitness to Practise cases. 

Hazel Carter-Showell, director of business psychologists Carter Corson, who carried out the review, said some staff felt ‘like they can’t even stop to have a glass of water’.

Claims of renal damage due to dehydration

Presenting the review’s findings at an NMC Council meeting, Ms Carter-Showell said: ‘I’m hearing from nurses and midwives that they are getting renal damage because they can’t drink, they can’t stop, and [if] they [do] stop and have a cup of tea, people go "Oh, got time for a break, have you?"

'They are causing physical harm to themselves because of the impact of not being able to hydrate, and psychology research has shown the impact of lack of hydration on the ability to think clearly and make good decisions.’

She added: 'I think there is a real issue of people saying "I’m too tired to think straight, I need to except that I can’t make a key decision right now".'

Nursing Standard poll revealed lack of opportunities to hydrate

The review’s findings follow a 2019 well-being at work survey of almost 2,250 nurses by Nursing Standard, which found that eight out of ten respondents have gone an entire shift without a single drink of water – and more than half said this happens at least once a week. 

Three quarters of respondents said they regularly did not have time for a break on a shift.


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