Expert advice

Workplace: What advice can I give to nurses who are not getting their breaks?

Nurses should insist on taking breaks for their own health and safety as well as that of their patients, says Zeba Arif.
Nursing taking a break

Nurses should insist on taking breaks for their own health and safety as well as that of their patients, says Zeba Arif

Not being able to take a break has serious health implications; not drinking enough can lead to chronic dehydration which affects kidney function; and infrequent emptying of the bladder can result in urinary tract infections.

It is essential that breaks are inbuilt as part of the working day. Nurses should insist on them for their own health and safety, as well as that of their patients – lack of food and drink also causes tiredness which impairs judgement.

In the face of insufficient staffing, it may seem heroic to carry on working rather than take a break, but this is not good nursing practice. Even a short amount of respite allows nurses to rest and revive themselves.

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