Poll: Shift rota review could see nurses working 12 hours

NEW shift patterns set to be rolled out across Ipswich Hospital will see some nurses working 12-hour day or night shifts.

The new rotas are expected to be introduced across the Heath Road trust following a successful trial on the maternity and children’s wards.

Rather than 7am to 3pm and 1pm to 9pm shifts, The Star understands the shifts would be 12 hours and either day or night shifts.

One source raised fears over stretching frontline staff, already working at full capacity and questioned whether patient safety is being put at risk.

But union bosses said that as long as staff take their breaks there is no reason patient safety should be compromised.

Tim Roberts, Unison’s regional secretary for Suffolk, said they have been closely involved with the year long pilot across maternity and children’s services.

“Longer shifts means fewer hand-overs and at hand-over time wards are double staffed so the trust should save money,” he said.

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“Our primary concern is always around duty of care and that people are not being put in a position where they are exhausted and make mistakes, which is dangerous to patients.”

Mr Roberts said during the pilot matrons and managers made a commitment that there was no reason for any member of staff to miss their breaks.

He added: “If staff take their breaks there is nothing, in principle, wrong with working 12 hours.

“We would be looking for that continued commitment from managers to ensure staff can take those breaks.”

Dr Lynne Wigens, director of Nursing and Quality said there is a review of shift patterns under way but emphasised there is no “one size fits all” policy.

“The Trust is working with staff and staff representatives to support those who wish to work 12 hour shifts where appropriate,” she said.

“Some wards and departments have introduced different shift patterns over the last few years. Twelve hour shifts, and shorter shifts, are being looked into at present and staff that will be affected will be written to in the next month.

“However it is not new to the trust and where it is appropriate has the benefit of more clinical staff being available through reduced time spent in hand-over.

“Twelve hour shifts include appropriate meal and rest breaks and staff who do not wish to work 12 hour day shifts will not be expected to do so.”

n What do you think? E-mail health reporter Lizzie Parry at lizzie.parry@archant.co.uk