press release
Published: 21 April 2020

Survey of UK nurses and midwives’ highlights their concerns about health, training and workload during Covid-19

Results of a survey published today (21 April) have highlighted concerns nurses and midwives in the UK have about Covid-19 and the risks it poses to their physical and mental health, as well as the health of their families. Respondents also reported training for staff redeployed to front line care was inadequate or non-existent. These survey results show there is an urgent need to provide support for the health and well being of staff, and to ensure they have access to ongoing training.

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The survey which evaluates the impact of Covid-19 on the UK nursing and midwifery workforce, is being undertaken at three time-points: prior to the Covid-19 peak, during the peak, and in the recovery period. The results from each point are being reported in real time, so the findings could be used to inform workforce strategies within the NHS and social care. This summary concerns the early results of the first survey (prior to Covid-19 peak).

The study, led by the Royal College of Nursing Research Society steering group, is a collaboration between King’s College London, University of Warwick, Cardiff University, University of Plymouth, Nottingham University, University of Surrey and St Bartholomew’s Hospital.

The first survey was open for responses between 2-14 April 2020. All members of the UK nursing and midwifery workforce were eligible to complete the survey, including registered nurses, registered midwives, student nurses, healthcare support workers, nursing associates, and trainee nursing associates. The survey was distributed by social media, the Royal College of Nursing, Nursing and Midwifery Council, and other key professional organisations.

2,600 members of the nursing and midwifery workforce participated in the survey and provided complete or near-complete data.

Initial findings include:

  • 74% feel their personal health is at risk during Covid-19 due to their clinical role.
  • 92% are worried about risks to family members during Covid-19 due to their clinical role.
  • Almost one-third (33%) respondents reported severe or extremely severe depression, anxiety or stress.
  • Of those being redeployed within the NHS, 62% either reported that their training was either non-existent, or inadequate.
  • 52% respondents had worked over their contracted hours on their last shift- two-thirds of these respondents will not be paid for their additional work.
  • 25% disagreed that correct PPE was always available (with only 44% agreeing that it was available)
  • 52% were either lacking in confidence regarding Covid-19 infection control and prevention training that they had received or had received no training.
  • 26% respondents had needed to self-isolate, of which 37% did not have personal symptoms and 64% missed four or more shifts due to self-isolation.

Commenting on the key implications these results have for the nursing and midwifery workforce, Jill Maben, Professor of Health Services Research and Nursing at the University of Surrey, said: “It is important for the well being of nursing staff that their concerns are not only listened to but acted upon. What we are hearing is that nurses are stressed and anxious and very apprehensive about the impact Covid-19 will have on their personal health and that of their families. One way this can be done is to ensure that the right psychological support is in place for nursing staff and that they have access to PPE.”

Professor Daniel Kelly, RCN Chair of Nursing Research at Cardiff University said: ‘These results point to stress and worry within the nursing workforce with almost one third of respondents reporting symptoms of depression. This is a situation that must be addressed by providing testing, safety equipment and support in all settings where nurses and midwives are working with great goodwill and bravery.’

Follow-up surveys will be advertised on social media - please follow @nursingpolicy

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