Nursing through the heatwave

 Janet Davies 23 Jul 2018

It can be all too easy to neglect your own primary needs and place yourself in a position of risk says Janet Davies.

UK heatwave
The hot weather shows no signs of letting up, and, as we enter yet another week of high temperatures and no rain, experts are asking whether records set in 1976 will be smashed in 2018.
That scorching summer still burns brightly in my mind. 
I was a student nurse in Manchester and remember being beyond exhausted during my run of night shifts. It was difficult enough to sleep at night, let alone during the day when temperatures peaked beyond 30 degrees. 
I swear I barely slept for four weeks.
As you put patients first and carry on despite extreme tiredness, it can be all too easy to neglect your own primary needs and place yourself in a position of risk. 
It’s not just a wellbeing at work issue but a matter of patient and staff safety. A tired and thirsty nurse is a potentially dangerous one.
The RCN launched a campaign earlier this year to help staff stay hydrated, eat well and get rest breaks at work, with posters to check your urine colour and guidance to influence employers. 
They have a legal duty to support your health and welfare at work, with the right to proper breaks and access to drinking water enshrined in law. 
I can’t think of a better time to start spreading the word about the campaign where you work.
Who knows how long this heatwave may last? 
Please look after yourselves and each other and make sure you’re not compromising your own health as well as your ability to look after others’.

Rest, rehydrate and refuel: Creating a healthier, happier workplace

Janet Davies

Janet Davies

Former RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary

Janet began her nursing career in Manchester and gained experience in acute, mental health and community settings. She later moved into director of nursing roles, where she obtained experience in leadership, before being RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary from 2015 to August 2018.

Page last updated - 05/09/2018