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More than a third of doctors fall asleep while driving

Car crash

More than a third of doctors have fallen asleep while driving home following a night shift, a survey has found.

A survey of more than 1,100 doctors from across the UK found that 41 per cent admitted that they had fallen asleep at the wheel of their cars after having worked night shifts.

The study, which was carried out on behalf of the BBC, found that the phenomenon was ‘most prevalent among pre-consultant grade doctors’ owing in part to regular rotations in place of work.

Commenting on the findings, BMA junior doctors committee co-chair Jeeves Wijesuriya said that ministers had to do more to tackle excessive workloads brought on by staffing shortages, adding that overworking doctors endangered staff and patients.

He said: ‘Sleep deprivation impairs judgement and decision making skills. Not only is it dangerous for patients, but as these figures show it can put the safety of doctors at risk.

‘With rising workloads, rota gaps covered by asking doctors to work double shifts, and moves to deliver more services out of hours, action is needed.

‘The Government must make safe working a priority and tackle the rise in staff shortages and rota gaps.’

Among the other findings included within the survey, carried out in July last year, was that more than half of respondents across all grades reported never having access to resting rooms, with or without beds, while on call

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