Crackdown on nurses' breaks

Hospital chiefs in Shropshire are cracking down on nurses and other staff taking tea breaks during their shifts, it was revealed today.


EXCLUSIVE By Simon Hardy

Hospital chiefs in Shropshire are cracking down on nurses and other staff taking tea breaks during their shifts, it was revealed today.

Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust said workers at the Princess Royal and Royal Shrewsbury hospitals had never been entitled to paid breaks during the working day but some staff had been taking them anyway.

However, the move to put the lid on paid breaks has sparked outrage among nurses. One angry nurse at the Princess Royal Hospital said the move was causing bitterness among staff.

Read more in today's Shropshire Star

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Comments for: "Crackdown on nurses' breaks"


my wife works for the nhs, at night there are only two staff on duty in a maternity unit does the midwife shut up shop and call out the on call midwife come on common sense please.

H. St. John Peasbody

I understand that this applies to nurses stopping work for cigarette breaks more than tea breaks. I'm sure that their 30 days holiday plus bank holidays per year provides adequate solace while the statutory minimum applied at many private companies is just 20 days plus bank holidays.


Surely the 'chiefs' as you refer to them have a duty of care towards their staff as well as patients.Bearing in mind all the hospitals I've ever been in are hot how are staff supposed to rehydrate themselves? Always easy to criticise when you're sat on the top floor with air-conditioning,tea and bourbons on tap.

ian formby

Disgraceful to have the headlines crackdown on nurses breaks. My wife is a frontline NHS worker (Nurse) and on most shifts works thought her break. Look at the administration (9-5) staff and management to find out who the culprits are?


I would prefer to have a nurse refreshed by a short tea break looking after me, rather than one who is jaded and more likely to make a mistake with medication etc. Sounds like another administrator trying to justify their position.

I wonder, do the administrators work through without a tea break?


So non-essential managers are taking breaks away from nurses? Wonderful.

Black Widow

Re: H. St. John Peasbody

1) It's 27 days + 8 bank holidays for being available to work 24 hours a day 7 days a week, I dont see many private firms needing that cover

2) I dont know many nurses that have time for cigarette breaks, never mind proper meal breaks. due to increased workloads and insufficent staffing levels, most of the time, ward areas run short staffed as it is.

The trust I work for goves paid breaks aswell as unpaid, but trying to fit in an hour in a long day just doesn't happen, for patients would suffer if it did!

Andrew finch

The issue here is , has it had to be brought in due to some staff taking the mick? if so blame your fellow worker not the managment.As for allan's comment the article regards nurses NOT admin staff etc .

H. St. John Peasbody

Thanks, Black Widow, for pointing out that everything isn't rosy in the NHS - I thought Nu Liebour had created an NHS Utopia with record investment blah blah blah....? So here we have the truth from a real nurse, apparently.

I'll just point out that it's 27 days plus 8 bank holidays for new starters - this increases dramatically with length of service. Those with 10 years service get a staggering 35 days plus bank holidays.

It's time to get real with the public service sector.


its ok for many members of the public to be so judgementle. if you were actually to come and work on the front line as a nurse,midwife,hca you would then see a 10minuite break during a shift is much needed, i cant see management working 7.00am - 1.30pm without a break can you! personally i think its a disgrace and before people open their mouths about this matter they should stop and think how much frontline workers actually give back to the public. Would you want to be admitted into hospital and then be treated by a nurse etc who was dead of their feet because they hadnt sat down or had a refreshment for 6+ hours?..... No.


I am one of those 'administration staff' and we take UNPAID breaks. Why should it be one rule for one staff group and another rule for others. It has always been the policy that breaks are unpaid but over the years bad practice has creeped in!

H. St. John Peasbody - it's 33 days after 10 years service.

r downing

i have just spent 11 days on ward 4

there great staff work hard let them have there breaks they run round left right anr centre

m anderson

agenda for change brought in by the government which was agreed with the staff says the management can change staff brakes but only if the staff will not be worse of so the trust is braking thare own rules. the breakes beeing stoped is cause the management or should i say office staff are allways out the back smoking.


Some of these idiots should see my daughter, an RGN and also a midwife when she comes home from some of her shifts. Totally and utterly drained more often than not. Time after time she has not even been able to take her scheduled, legally entitled meal break let alone have breaks for cuppas etc. It has now reached the stage where she/they are lucky if they can manage to get a meal of any sort during a shift and to leave off work on time after the end of a shift is a rarity.

What are these idiots going to do when nursing/midwifery staff just "down tools" and go for their legal, scheduled break right in the middle of a mother giving birth or in the middle of someone having a cardiac arrest, perhaps the "Hospital Chiefs" responsible for this nonsense will be on hand in the wee small hours to say, "push, push harder, harder still when the nurse/midwife is taking her meal break. I don't think so.

Just in case they didn't realise, it is a case of give and take and all to often the Hospitals and NHS "take" with very little "give".


Management seem to forget all the hours nursing staff put in when they stay behind after a shift because an emergency has happened on the ward or there are staff shortages due to sickness and staff are asked to come in on their days off at short notice. NHS hospitals run on the goodwill of their staff and what do management do in return they take away a 15 min coffee/tea break??

How many of these managers are sitting at their desks with cups of coffee?

I have worked in the NHS for 30years and always had a 15 min morning coffee break or 15 min afternoon tea break.


I am a non-smoking nurse from the NHS and I can assure you it applies to tea breaks! Yes would love to get in line with other workers.....i'm sure you get more than one drink in an 8 hour shift......double pay for sundays/bank holidays....11 hours rest between shifts (which doesnt apply to us because we are exempt!).....oh yes please bring it on!

Worker in Solidarity

About time too, nurses taking tea breaks is obviously one of the main reasons this country's in such an unholy mess!

With the public finaces in the state they're in we need to ensure the nurses have their noses to the grindstone for the entirity of their shift.

These nurses are robbing us blind, they should try being involved in financial services, or a chief executive of a FTSE company. Then they'd find out what work's all about!

If they're not fit to collapse from exhaustion and/or dehydration come the end of their shift, then I, as a TAXPAYER, feel cheated of my money.

GET REAL PEASBODY AND FINCH - These people are human beings who do a vital, challenging job in return for a modest salary.

They are dealing with people's health, often matters of life and death; I doubt they need lessons on getting 'real' from sanctimonious curmudgeons like Peasbody.

The bile and resentment directed at decent human beings doing important work never ceases to amaze and depress me.

Sadly, I'm of the belief that we've yet to feel the full impact of the fallout from the banking crisis - created by the 'Labour' governments indulgence of the greed of the financial sector and super rich - and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

I expect widespread attacks on working people from those in power who will seek not to just make them pay for the bankers crisis, but to blame them for it as well.


As with any employed position, a break should be allowed and any smoking, drinking or eating should be done in that time. If the few are skipping off to have a fag or whatever, surely their colleagues would welcome this crackdown. As Alan Finch points out, it is probably the minority that are spoiling it for the majority.

let me have my say

All I can say is that from next monday all people who are manangement and above will not be allowed any breaks or refreshments in their offices and will have to supply their own lunches. All lunch breaks will be of 1/2 hr period.

I wonder if you made all the many chiefs stick to the above there will be hell to pay.

So lay off the nurses, and let them have a tea break.


I work at PRH on front line-the staff i work with barely have time to stand still, never mind have fag and drink breaks.We are not allowed on our ward to drink a coffee at the desk - even if we are doing paper-work etc. Go on to other wards, and they are all there with tea and biscuits - lucky them!! Funny, i was walking down the corridor the other day, and i saw one of the executive managers talking to another manager on the corridor, both of them sipping from mugs of coffee-bless them. rules are obviously different for the "workers". Everyone you talk to at PRH is dispondent at the moment- many are off with stress, the managers dont care as long as they are under budget, and beating bed-breaches. Nothing else matters. the prh is falling apart-well the staff are anyway. What the hell difference does it make if they have an extra 10 minute break - by god - we need it. The majority of us work our backsides off.


It's far too easy for people like H StJ P to be critical of 'public sector' personnel but he (as usual) fails to make the distinction between front line service providers - who must react to the client/customer needs as and when, 24/7, and the insipid bureaucrats who have created a parasitic overpaid industry out of 'managing' the services.

If H StJ P was faced with a ten hour shift of bedpans, life critical medications/tests and highly emotional relatives he'd want twice as much holiday/rest time!

John Peters

Perhaps Black Widow can explain why a part time Nurse works and extra shift at double time and is then entitled to a day off as well, yet they are not working the next day, I think the hole system needs to be looked at, are most nurses part time and only work on average 3 days a week?

dark knight

my friend is a nurse, and taking breaks away is unpleasent as whare does the good will apply when you are busy and your shift is due to finnish !! who suffers !!! patients !! but oh know the nurse is expected to stay !! HOW IS THAT fair!

Joe Bloggs

I work at the Trust and Nurses are allowed their breaks, they are just not paid for these. How would the general public feel about their money being spent on staff having paid breaks!? Not happy I imagine. With this extra cost saving the money could be put towards more staff to deliver better patient care, which is what the NHS is about!


Working in the current NHS is no joke, the annual leave that unions fought hard to retain under 'agenda for change' is neccesary for frontline staff to recuperate. I have first hand experience of frontline work, I have not had a 50 minute lunchbreak (unpaid) in over 2 years. If I took this time it would mean that patients have to wait and I am late getting home. There is a simple solution to this problem; 1. provide more frontline nursing staff, we like our work when we can do it to the best of ability. 2. get rid of management and chief execs who have no idea of what nurses face on a day to day basis. Holby City (some won't like it) is accurate in its portrayal of what the modern NHS is like! As a ex-smoker I sympathise with those staff who often forgo their unpaid entitlement to have a quick smoke. We often stay late, or arrive early to try and keep the NHS a caring profession!!!


"Look at the administration (9-5) staff and management to find out who the culprits are?"

Actually, working in accounts, i rarely get time for a lunch break let alone tea and biscuits twice a day on top of the time i'm meant to have for lunch!!

Some people really are taking the mick, it's not fair and i agree that it needs to be stopped.

If you want a break, it's only fair you make up he time yourself. If you can't make it up, it's simple, don't have the break!


hey peasebottom you seem to av a lot of holiday as your always on here with your sad responses


Nurses should spend less time on the internet booking holidays or drinking tea and look after their patients. You are there to work !

H. St. John Peasbody

It's interesting that fellow readers seem to think that I have criticised nurses, when in fact, I haven't.

Anyway, why are we not allowed to question nurses when we attack other "front line" operatives, in particular the police?


The comments and plans of the so called hospital chiefs are comtemptable and an insult to all hardworking NHS staff,inparticular the nurses. Having worked at the PRH I can confirm that without the goodwill of nursing staff frequently forgoing any break and working over their hours,withoutcompensation, the hospital could not function.

Worker in solidarity

Nice attempt at spin, Peasbody, but your comments clearly imply that you think nurses have it easy and are more than compensated with their annual leave entitlement.

"It’s time to get real with the public service sector", in the context of this debate is hardly a message of support.

If anyone has a problem with nurses taking a couple of unpaid tea breaks where pressures of work allow (and they frequently don't), I question their motivation.

As for 'why are we not allowed to question nurses when we attack other “front line” operatives, in particular the police'?.

Attacking public sector workers is not , contrary to the impression your comments give, a pastime for the supercillious.

We have the right to question public servants when they are negligent, corrupt or incompetent.

We should not be looking for any excuse to slur, denigrate and belittle as you do.

m anderson

eeerrrrr poor nurses it appliyes to all staff kithen staff. porters. electritions engineers .every one works hard every last minuet of the working day has to be accounted for or else

Simon Hardy

I would welcome the opportunity to talk to nurses and other NHS staff members about this and any other issues they feel need airing at the Princess Royal Hospital in particular. If anyone would prefer that I do not print their name or anything leading to their identity I would, of course, respect that.

I have tried and am continuing to raise many of the points made here with the hospital trust.

Simon Hardy.


I was at the PRH today. Hard working staff, unable to even take their lunch break was what I saw.


Simon, I suggest you go to the smoking shelters on either site and ask the people there whether they're making up the time or substituting their lunch break for a fag.

Patient patient

Re the fuss over the removal of nurses breaks -do the public realise that there is a recruitment ban at PRH at the moment and every dept is badly short-staffed. When staff leave they are not being replaced,leaving the remaining staff to work much harder to care for the patients .

The stressed staff certainly need these breaks !!

No-one will talk to you Simon as they are forbidden to contact the Press.

"Front-line services will not be affected !" -don't be fooled-cuts are already here and affecting the workload of front-line staff !!

andrew finch

Does the truth hurt ?? seems so.

We all come home from work shatterd , we all work hard, most do not go running to the break room for paid breaks however.As i have said blame your fellow workers who have taken the mick . As to what if you were being treated by a member of staff who was to tired to do their job properly ?? sorry but if you are not up to it OFF you go.


What's next, make them pay for their uniforms, pay to use the lifts etc. etc.? I was once in the RSH with DVT and can honestly say I have nothing but admiration for nurses. They do a job I would not do for a pension and those I met did it with a passion and a smile on their faces often in the face of rudeness from some patients. They deserve a break, they need a break and they should be paid for it. Cut back on the upper floor pen-pushers and the NHS probably could afford to do this. For crying out loud, LEAVE THEM ALONE.


I personally believe that this is being blown out of context. I would like to clarify that this does not just apply to 'Nurses' but to all staff covered by Agenda for Change. Secondly, no-one is stopping anyone from having breaks, if you want one, go for it, but the payment is the factor here. Why should the tax payer pick up the bill for anyone wishing to take a 10-15 minute break twice a day?


I work in a factory environment and have done for a number of years....Everywhere I have worked, I have been entitled to paid breaks due to the fact we are constantly on our feet. Office staff are also entitled to a break due to the fact they are not allowed to look at a computer screen for 5/6 hours at a time. So why shouldnt nurses be entitled to paid breaks!!!


Usual ill informed rubbish I see. All NHS staff whether admin or nursing are on the same contract which gives them the same rights. This does not include paid breaks. Nurses don't get breaks and neither do admin or management. Usual naive comments about admin and managers. get over it people. Any large organisation needs a range of staff in admin and front line functions. Still why let the facts get in the way of ill informed prejudice?


these nurses like the bin men and the other cushy public sector workers have had it easy under labour, a weak leader prepared to give them pay rises year on year to appease the union, no wonder society is broken - i cant wait for dave cameron to get in and sort these lot out, no paid fag breaks should be lalowed, sack them if they dont like it


I also work long hours on my feet all day in a very busy bar serving meals all day long, 48-55 hours per week! We are not allowed any breaks paid or unpaid as its constantly very busy. Welcome to the real and very stressful life we all lead!!

Andrew finch

Breaks are to be taken as per an employees contract. No employee should take it upon themselves to decide when they will take a break . As with BA and all the others get a reality check do what you are paid to do, dont try and defraud your employer,if you do not like it move on and let some one take your place.

m anderson

this break ban only applies to the prh and rsh no other hospital in the countrey is stoping breaks

Ron Cope

Once more conclusive evidence that managers have a number of sessions with the 'Public Services Training Office for Funny Walks'. Similar to my last job in the West Mercia Probation Service..the Human Resources Department have an obliguation to make sure moral does not get too high by finding 'what they think are innovative schemes to justify their existence. Get real ..what goes around will comes around'. Ron Cope


I am a nurse with over 25 years experience, I would like to point out that often when things get busy no breaks are taken, would you like somebody looking after you who has not eaten or had a drink or sat down in eight hours? I wouldnt. A train or lorry driver cannot do it so why is it ok for nurses. letting a nurse have a quick ten minute break when able is the safest as that may be all he or she gets, managers can sit in their ivory towers sipping earl grey whenever they like, we cannot take drinks onto the shop floor. what another great morale boosting idea from the NHS. I cant wait to leave!

Roger M

We now have the bosses of NHS trust defending the issue. What most people will find difficult to comprehend is that when it comes to tea breaks, even though everyone from nurses to admin to managers have the same line in there contract about tea breaks, admin and managers will abuse this because they have the oppertunity to sit down and have a cuppa tea while at there desk, nurses cannot. I have been in a few jobs in my current 30 years of work and each and everyone of these companies has had an admin member or manager who abuses the tea break but forces there workers to comply with the contracts they signed. It is bosses forcing there employers to 'do as i say, not as i do'.

Roger M

error to my previous message, i meant to type 'forcing there employees to do as i say, not as i do'

Worker in Solidarity

Well said RB.

Aaron, ,your post is laughable.

Public sector workers have been receiving below inflation 'pay rises' for years. It's a real terms pay cut.

If you think nurses/hospital staff are responsible for Cameron's dubious 'Broken Britain', then I truly despair.

With all due respect, I think you should broaden your frame of reference before commenting any further.

Andrew Finch, please enlighten us as to how BA cabin crew are 'defrauding their employer'?


Hey i tell you what as an NHS Employee for the past 15 odd years i recommend its the management structure that should be closely scrutinised!!!!

Too many shirtkers and not enough workers!

please post if you have experience of this!!!