Part 2 - 12 hour shifts: Bank Partners’ survival guide for NHS bank staff

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Part 2 - 12 hour shifts: Bank Partners’ survival guide for NHS bank staff


In the first part of this guide, we shared with you a number of tips NHS bank staff can use to help survive a long 12 hour shift. These included preparing yourself physically and mentally for the gruelling shift, wearing comfortable shoes, keeping well hydrated and fed, as well as making sure to take your breaks. This post concludes our recommendations to help you survive working 12 hour shifts.

Stock up on Vitamin D

Several research projects have highlighted the role vitamin D plays in maintaining the body’s normal bone health, immune system and muscle function.

We obtain some vitamin D from our diet; good food sources include oily fish, fortified orange juice, egg yolks and fortified dairy products. However, our main source of vitamin D is sunlight and for those of you working 12-hour shifts, lack of sunlight is an issue. Supplements are a good way to boost vitamin D levels – although always check the dosage instructions as too much can be toxic. Alternatively, invest in a full-spectrum light box and recreate sunshine indoors.

Pack some essentials

Before setting off, check the contents of your bag to ensure it contains everything you may need to get through 12 hours in a hospital. As well as food and liquids, our nurses recommended deodorant to freshen up, Vaseline or lip salve (hospital air can be very dry), reading material, a watch, an MP3 player and headphones, Borocca, hand sanitizer and hand cream, a toothbrush, gum or mints, hairclips and bands, eye drops and a pen.

Stay positive

Sometimes it’s hard to stay positive – particularly in the middle of a long, demanding shift. But the patients are your priority, and the impact a friendly smile and upbeat, compassionate manner will have on them can’t be underestimated.

Positivity is a state of mind and there are lots of techniques you can try that will help replace negative with positive. Try deep breathing for example, which releases not only stress and tension, but endorphins too, triggering a positive feeling in our body.

Try to laugh more – this will also release endorphins. Other tips for a more positive outlook are meditation, a good diet, exercise, a good sleep pattern and always finding the optimistic viewpoint in a negative situation.


The health benefits of regular physical activity are hard to ignore. As well as controlling weight, exercise can improve mood, promote better sleep and boost energy levels – ‘must haves’ for nurses who regularly work 12-hour shifts. 

Trying to achieve the recommended 30 minutes of exercise each day can be difficult but you could include activity in your workday. Invest in a pedometer – a great way to track your activity and motivate you to improve. For general weight maintenance, aim for around 10,000 steps per day.

Factor in some recovery time at home afterwards

First, you need to get home safely. If you can, take public transport rather than drive. If you have to drive, take a quick nap or a brisk walk beforehand and drive carefully.

Once home, it’s important to take care of yourself and replenish your strength in preparation for the next 12-hour shift. It will help if food is readily available for you and your family so if this is your responsibility then it may help to plan and cook meals on your days off. Sit down, elevate your feet and, if possible, exfoliate and soak them in Epsom salts to avoid corns and calluses. Relax and enjoy your time before you have to do it all over again!

Thank you for reading our tips

We hope it helps! Make sure to read part 1 of our article, if you haven't already, for more.

Use these tips at your disposal and search for NHS Bank jobs near you or register with Bank Partners for job alerts and more. We also want to hear from you so share with us in the comments below - what do you do to make it through a 12 hour shift?

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  • By on

    very informative