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Readers panel: Should nursing staff be allowed water bottles in clinical settings? 

This will be a matter for discussion at RCN congress in May. It has been proposed by the RCN UK Safety Reps committee, which wants to ‘challenge the draconian practice’ of staff not being allowed to have bottles of water in clinical settings. Nursing Standard readers have their say

This will be a matter for discussion at RCN congress in May. It has been proposed by the RCN UK Safety Reps committee, which wants to ‘challenge the draconian practice’ of staff not being allowed to have bottles of water in clinical settings. Nursing Standard readers have their say


Picture: iStock

Liz Charalambous is a staff nurse and PhD student in Nottingham 
@lizcharalambou

That this is even being discussed highlights the problems of power and control in teams. On what grounds can a human being be denied access to fluids, especially in hot, busy environments? I see no health and safety risks associated with this – quite the reverse. If nurses are not allowed access to drinks, serious health complications can ensue, not to mention loss of concentration and possible errors being made. Nurses also need regular rest breaks. We should be looking after our staff. 

 

Grant Byrne is a nursing student in Edinburgh 
@GGByrne 

Dehydration impairs cognitive and physical functioning, and can have serious implications for long-term health. Dehydrated nurses make more mistakes, so why are we not doing our utmost to ensure we are all well hydrated? As nurses across the UK report missing out on breaks, not allowing them to have a bottle of water nearby is positively dangerous. It is akin to telling us that our health is secondary to a tidy work environment. The practice of banning water bottles should have been dropped a long time ago.

 

Jane Scullion is a respiratory nurse consultant in Leicester
@JaneScullion

Having dehydrated nurses on hospital wards is obviously a great idea – they will require fewer comfort breaks so will be be more productive overall, especially during 12-hour shifts. I’m joking, of course – dehydration is bad for nurses’ health, and bad for their patients. If nurses need a drink of water they should have one. Access to fluids is essential, but we need to be wary of promoting a culture of carrying bottles of water around. What nurses need are regular breaks so they can have a drink and a rest in privacy. 

 

Daniel Athey is a charge nurse on an acute medical unit in Sheffield 
@danjathey

I haven’t worked in any clinical setting where water bottles are not allowed. It is not an infection control issue, and I see no justification for the archaic and illogical practice of banning them. You just have to use your common sense – you wouldn’t have a coffee while doing the drug round, but nurses work hard and having a drink of water should be acceptable, even encouraged. Banning water bottles makes no sense. The fact that we are even discussing it is worrying.

 


Readers’ panel members give their views in a personal capacity only 

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