By Julia Allan, Aberdeen University, Scotland
Modern life is hectic. We live in an increasingly ‘switched on’ digital world where periods of true respite from work are rare. Many people regularly work for lengthy periods and this is particularly the case for health professionals working in frontline healthcare services. In the healthcare context, working hours and demands are typically high, shifts routinely exceed the 8 hours of a ‘normal’ working day, and work demands can be relentless in nature. If a continuous series of patients require urgent care, health professionals are obligated to provide it, regardless of how busy they have been, or how long they have been working. As a result of these high demands, missed breaks are extremely common in healthcare settings – for example, it is reported that 1 in 10 nurses never take a proper break and 1 in 3 rarely or never take meal breaks during shifts.