Many physiotherapists who are on call miss out on proper rest breaks, leading to fatigue, stress and potential hazards for members and patients, the CSP’s Annual Representative Conference heard.
Katrina Humphreys: The European working time directive says workers need an 11-hour rest break in any 24-hour period - photos: Lorne Campbell/Guzelian
Many physiotherapists who are on call miss out on proper rest breaks, leading to fatigue, stress and potential hazards for members and patients, the event heard.
Katrina Humphreys, on behalf of the national group of regional safety representatives, called on the CSP to update guidance about rest entitlement. This was particularly important for physiotherapists who are on call overnight, she said.
‘Few members know what the guidance is about on call compensatory rest breaks,’ she said. ‘And, shockingly, those who do know often don’t take their rest properly because they feel they will be punished for it, or feel they will be letting down their patients and colleagues.’
Ms Humphreys told delegates that since March 2011, when a protected on call scheme ended, many NHS trusts had introduced unpaid compensatory rest, while others had failed to implement adequate guidance or policy.
‘The European working time directive outlines the need for an 11-hour rest break in any 24-hour period. And the Health and Care Professions Council states that staff need to be fit for work and not compromising their own health and safety, or those of their patients, if they are over-tired,’ she said.
‘So we are asking the CSP to create a review of all the current guidelines and advise managers and staff about what they are entitled to.’
Risk to patientsPhil Gordon (above), from the national group of regional stewards, seconded the motion.
‘I have treated a patient in the middle of the night, then slept for one hour and gone on to do a full shift the next day,’ he said.
‘From speaking to other stewards this type of experience appears to be mirrored across all trusts. Not only is this putting patients at risk but – if there was a serious incident, or even a death – how protected would physios be, if they had willingly foregone rest and then found themselves in a disciplinary or capability proceeding?
‘Ultimately if we let this go on it could damage the reputation of the entire profession.’
The motion was carried.
Member discussions on interactiveCSP, the society’s networking website, have revealed that it is common for on call physios to take
- no compensatory rest breaks at all
- compensatory rest as annual leave
- unpaid compensatory rest breaks at the discretion of the team leaders
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