JMO Safe Hours Working Group-
Dr Alex Parr
This month, Dr Yvonne Nguyen and I attended the second meeting of the JMO Safe Hours Working Group, which the Ministry of Health has established to provide input and advice on the design of safe work standards for JMOs working in the NSW Health system.
The main point of discussion in this meeting was the management of night shifts for JMOs.
In 2020, ASMOF surveyed members on this issue, and the results showed strong support for rostered night shifts to be capped at seven consecutive nights.
The Ministry's position however, is that night shifts should be capped at four consecutive nights. The time off after nights is still in discussion however the suggestion is that nights are followed by a minimum of half the number of days off as nights worked. This position is based on fatigue research in professions other than medicine, and we have asked for the full details to look at the evidence.
Our role on this group is to be a voice for our members and we know that for the majority of members, as well as many departments and rosters, a 7 on/7 off cycle may work better and allows us time to adjust to a new sleep cycle as well as adequate time off post nights.
Whilst we are not advocating for everyone to do blocks of 7 nights, we are concerned that imposing a maximum of 4 consecutive nights reduces flexibility for departments and primarily for DiTs, especially those on secondment to or from rural/regional sites. This cap would also increase the number of runs of nights each of us has to do.
For these reasons, we are advocating for a standard of an absolute maximum of 7 consecutive night shifts, with equal number of days off as the number of nights worked.
We will be surveying members again in 2023 to understand JMO feedback about the Ministry's four days on, four days off, night shift proposal and other proposed safe work standards. We look forward to continuing the discussion in 2023!