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Surgeons back national campaign to raise awareness of fatigue amongst healthcare staff

10 Feb 2021

The Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS Eng) is backing the national Fight Fatigue campaign, a joint initiative of the Association of Anaesthetists, the Royal College of Anaesthetists and the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the impact of fatigue and shift work on our NHS workforce.


The Fight Fatigue campaign was launched in 2018 in response to the tragic death of a trainee anaesthetist who died whilst driving home tired after a night shift.


Despite growing support for the campaign there is still much to be done, as demonstrated by a survey[1], published in the journal Anaesthesia, which revealed the scale and impact of out-of-hours working on consultant anaesthetists and intensivists. The vast majority of survey respondents reported work-related fatigue impacting on all areas of life and more than 1 in 10 admitted to having a car accident or near miss when commuting whilst fatigued in their consultant career, and many more as a junior doctor. The survey also found:


  • 91% of consultants who responded, experience work-related fatigue and 50% of them reported this had a moderate or severe impact on health, wellbeing, work and home life.
  • Only a third (34%) said they have access to a private rest facility when on-call.
  • 84% of respondents contribute to a night on-call rota (including weekends) and 37% also work regular weekend days.


Professor Neil Mortensen, President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said:

“We are fully behind the campaign to Fight Fatigue. Staff continue to face what has most likely been the most difficult year in the NHS’s history.  Many are burnt out from caring for tens of thousands of patients who have been seriously ill with Covid-19. Staff are also dealing with the trauma of seeing so many patients, and also colleagues, succumb to the virus. It is vitally important that they are given the space and time to look after themselves and recover from the onslaught of Covid-19.”


Association of Anaesthetists’ President, Dr Mike Nathanson, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed the NHS to its limits. Healthcare staff continue to be under extraordinary pressure and are likely to face workplace fatigue and stress on a scale never experienced before. Our Fight Fatigue campaign has never been more important, and we want to remind our colleagues of the risks of fatigue and how to mitigate against them. In these intensely busy times, it is hugely important that we continue to ensure our staff are getting the rest and sleep they need. Improving rest facilities at work and raising awareness of the issues related to fatigue are just two ways our campaign is striving to make a difference.


“I’m delighted that the Royal College of Surgeons of England is officially endorsing our Fight Fatigue campaign and we look forward to working with them to help raise awareness of the issues related to fatigue.


Dr Emma Plunkett, joint fatigue group co-lead and consultant anaesthetist, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, said: “It is encouraging to see our campaign continue to grow and to have support from organisations representing a wide range of specialties and professional groups across the NHS. We also have support from MPs across the political spectrum at Westminster and the devolved bodies. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of us looking after the staff in the NHS and we invite all our colleagues in the NHS to back the Fight Fatigue campaign to help us raise awareness of the risks of fatigue and how to mitigate them.”

Notes to editors

[1] A national survey of outofhours working and fatigue in consultants in anaesthesia and paediatric intensive care in the UK and Ireland, 2 September 2019,

About the Fight Fatigue campaign

 The #FightFatigue campaign is a joint initiative of the Association of Anaesthetists, Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCoA) and the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine (FICM), co-ordinated through a Joint Fatigue Group. Since its launch in 2018, Numerous organisations and MPs have pledged their support. More information about the campaign be found at:


About the Royal College of Surgeons of England

The Royal College of Surgeons of England is a professional membership organisation and registered charity, which exists to advance surgical standards and improve patient care.

For more information, please contact the RCS Press Office:


About the Association of Anaesthetists
As the professional membership organisation for over 10,000 anaesthetists in the UK, Republic of Ireland and internationally, the Association of Anaesthetists promotes patient care and safety, and advances anaesthesia through education, publications, research and international work. The Association maintains an active programme of support for anaesthesia worldwide, especially in low- and middle-income countries. Its motto in somno securitas (‘Safe in Sleep’) encapsulates the major focus of the Association: safety in anaesthesia.


About the Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCoA)

The Royal College of Anaesthetists is the professional body responsible for the specialty throughout the UK, and ensures the quality of patient care through the maintenance of standards in anaesthesia, critical care and pain medicine.


About the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine (FICM)

The Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine is the professional body responsible for the training, assessment, practice and continuing professional development of Intensive Care Medicine doctors and practitioners in the UK.


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