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Research highlights concerns of UK nurses and midwives over Covid-19

28 April 2020

Nurses walking down corridor stock image

A survey to evaluate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the UK’s nursing and midwifery workforce has highlighted important mental health concerns.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) survey found a third of respondents reported severe or extremely severe depression, anxiety or stress.

Professor Daniel Kelly, from Cardiff University’s School of Healthcare Sciences,who was part of the steering group conducting the survey, said the results pointed to “stress and worry” - and these needed to be addressed.

A total of 2,600 responded to the first ICON survey, which was carried out between 2-14 April and released on 21 April. Researchers plan to do two more surveys,  soon after the Covid-19 peak and afterwards.

It is hoped the real-time findings can be used to inform workforce strategies within the NHS and social care.

The findings included:

  • 74% feel their personal health is at risk during the pandemic due to their clinical role
  • 92% are worried about risks to family members due to their clinical role
  • A 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

Professor Kelly, who is RCN Chair of Nursing Research, 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.”

The follow-up surveys will be advertised on social media via @RCNResearchSoc.

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

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