This article was originally published here
BMJ Open. 2021 Sep 6;11(9):e054377. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-054377.
OBJECTIVES: To develop an understanding of health professionals’ experiences of working at the point of care during the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact on their health and well-being and their support needs.
DESIGN: A qualitative study using semistructured interviews. Data were analysed using framework analysis.
SETTING: One large National Health Service integrated care trust.
PARTICIPANTS: A purposive sample of 19 qualified health professionals (doctors, nurses or allied health professionals), working with patients with COVID-19 admitted to the hospitals between March and May 2020 were eligible to take part.
RESULTS: Eight major categories were identified: (1) Working in a ‘war zone’, (2) ‘Going into a war zone without a weapon’, (3) ‘Patients come first’, (4) Impact of COVID-19, (5) Leadership and management, (6) Support systems, (7) Health professionals’ support needs, and (8) Camaraderie and pride. Health professionals reported increased levels of stress, anxiety and a lack of sleep. They prioritised their patients’ needs over their own and felt a professional obligation to be at work. A key finding was the reported camaraderie among the health professionals where they felt that they were ‘fighting this war together’.
CONCLUSIONS: This study provides a valuable insight into the experiences of some of the frontline health professionals working in a large London-based hospital trust during the first COVID-19 peak. Findings from this study could be used to inform how managers, leaders and organisations can better support their health professional staff during the current pandemic and beyond.