A senior NHS anaesthetist, Thomas Herbst, has been suspended after he was caught napping in an operating theatre during surgery. Herbst fell asleep shortly after administering an anaesthetic and failed to wake up even when tapped by a colleague. He blamed long working hours and an undiagnosed illness for his drowsiness. This is not the first time Herbst has been caught sleeping in the theatre, as he was previously given a warning by the General Medical Council. Despite being found guilty of serious professional misconduct, Herbst was suspended for six months after offering to reduce his number of shifts. The incident resulted in the cancellation of an afternoon list of patients due for operations. Herbst defended his behaviour, stating that many anaesthetists across the UK close their eyes in operating theatres. The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service has ordered a review hearing for Herbst later in the year.
Our HR Comment: NHS anaesthetist fell asleep on the job | Consensus HR – Herts, Beds
Matthew Chilcott, FCIPD, ACEL, Owner of Consensus HR comments: “This article demonstrates a very worrying episode of tiredness at work and in a sector where the health and welfare of your team is of the utmost importance. Consensus HR states that regardless of what sector you work in, the hours you work must be managed correctly or as in this instance you could be having the adverse effect to what you are aiming to achieve and thankfully in this case, no detriments to health occurred. Businesses always need to ensure that any misconduct is fully investigated correctly, and the appropriate action taken such as reducing the number of shifts / hours a member of the team works.”
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