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      Perceptions and experiences of healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK


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          The COVID-19 pandemic has set unprecedented demand on the healthcare workforce around the world. The UK has been one of the most affected countries in Europe. The aim of this study was to explore the perceptions and experiences of healthcare workers (HCWs) in relation to COVID-19 and care delivery models implemented to deal with the pandemic in the UK.


          The study was designed as a rapid appraisal combining: (1) a review of UK healthcare policies (n=35 policies), (2) mass media and social media analysis of front-line staff experiences and perceptions (n=101 newspaper articles, n=1 46 000 posts) and (3) in-depth (telephone) interviews with front-line staff (n=30 interviews). The findings from all streams were analysed using framework analysis.


          Limited personal protective equipment (PPE) and lack of routine testing created anxiety and distress and had a tangible impact on the workforce. When PPE was available, incorrect size and overheating complicated routine work. Lack of training for redeployed staff and the failure to consider the skills of redeployed staff for new areas were identified as problems. Positive aspects of daily work reported by HCWs included solidarity between colleagues, the establishment of well-being support structures and feeling valued by society.


          Our study highlighted the importance of taking into consideration the experiences and concerns of front-line staff during a pandemic. Staff working in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic advocated clear and consistent guidelines, streamlined testing of HCWs, administration of PPE and acknowledgement of the effects of PPE on routine practice.

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          Most cited references47

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          Using the framework method for the analysis of qualitative data in multi-disciplinary health research

          Background The Framework Method is becoming an increasingly popular approach to the management and analysis of qualitative data in health research. However, there is confusion about its potential application and limitations. Discussion The article discusses when it is appropriate to adopt the Framework Method and explains the procedure for using it in multi-disciplinary health research teams, or those that involve clinicians, patients and lay people. The stages of the method are illustrated using examples from a published study. Summary Used effectively, with the leadership of an experienced qualitative researcher, the Framework Method is a systematic and flexible approach to analysing qualitative data and is appropriate for use in research teams even where not all members have previous experience of conducting qualitative research.
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            The experiences of health-care providers during the COVID-19 crisis in China: a qualitative study

            Summary Background In the early stages of the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Hubei, China, the local health-care system was overwhelmed. Physicians and nurses who had no infectious disease expertise were recruited to provide care to patients with COVID-19. To our knowledge, no studies on their experiences of combating COVID-19 have been published. We aimed to describe the experiences of these health-care providers in the early stages of the outbreak. Methods We did a qualitative study using an empirical phenomenological approach. Nurses and physicians were recruited from five COVID-19-designated hospitals in Hubei province using purposive and snowball sampling. They participated in semi-structured, in-depth interviews by telephone from Feb 10 to Feb 15, 2020. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using Haase's adaptation of Colaizzi's phenomenological method. Findings We recruited nine nurses and four physicians. Three theme categories emerged from data analysis. The first was “being fully responsible for patients' wellbeing—‘this is my duty’”. Health-care providers volunteered and tried their best to provide care for patients. Nurses had a crucial role in providing intensive care and assisting with activities of daily living. The second category was “challenges of working on COVID-19 wards”. Health-care providers were challenged by working in a totally new context, exhaustion due to heavy workloads and protective gear, the fear of becoming infected and infecting others, feeling powerless to handle patients' conditions, and managing relationships in this stressful situation. The third category was “resilience amid challenges”. Health-care providers identified many sources of social support and used self-management strategies to cope with the situation. They also achieved transcendence from this unique experience. Interpretation The intensive work drained health-care providers physically and emotionally. Health-care providers showed their resilience and the spirit of professional dedication to overcome difficulties. Comprehensive support should be provided to safeguard the wellbeing of health-care providers. Regular and intensive training for all health-care providers is necessary to promote preparedness and efficacy in crisis management. Funding National Key R&D Program of China, Project of Humanities and Social Sciences of the Ministry of Education in China.
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              COVID-19: protecting health-care workers

              The Lancet (2020)
              Worldwide, as millions of people stay at home to minimise transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, health-care workers prepare to do the exact opposite. They will go to clinics and hospitals, putting themselves at high risk from COVID-2019. Figures from China's National Health Commission show that more than 3300 health-care workers have been infected as of early March and, according to local media, by the end of February at least 22 had died. In Italy, 20% of responding health-care workers were infected, and some have died. Reports from medical staff describe physical and mental exhaustion, the torment of difficult triage decisions, and the pain of losing patients and colleagues, all in addition to the infection risk. As the pandemic accelerates, access to personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers is a key concern. Medical staff are prioritised in many countries, but PPE shortages have been described in the most affected facilities. Some medical staff are waiting for equipment while already seeing patients who may be infected or are supplied with equipment that might not meet requirements. Alongside concerns for their personal safety, health-care workers are anxious about passing the infection to their families. Health-care workers who care for elderly parents or young children will be drastically affected by school closures, social distancing policies, and disruption in the availability of food and other essentials. Health-care systems globally could be operating at more than maximum capacity for many months. But health-care workers, unlike ventilators or wards, cannot be urgently manufactured or run at 100% occupancy for long periods. It is vital that governments see workers not simply as pawns to be deployed, but as human individuals. In the global response, the safety of health-care workers must be ensured. Adequate provision of PPE is just the first step; other practical measures must be considered, including cancelling non-essential events to prioritise resources; provision of food, rest, and family support; and psychological support. Presently, health-care workers are every country's most valuable resource. © 2020 Denis Lovrovic/AFP/Getty Images 2020 Since January 2020 Elsevier has created a COVID-19 resource centre with free information in English and Mandarin on the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The COVID-19 resource centre is hosted on Elsevier Connect, the company's public news and information website. Elsevier hereby grants permission to make all its COVID-19-related research that is available on the COVID-19 resource centre - including this research content - immediately available in PubMed Central and other publicly funded repositories, such as the WHO COVID database with rights for unrestricted research re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for free by Elsevier for as long as the COVID-19 resource centre remains active.

                Author and article information

                BMJ Open
                BMJ Open
                BMJ Open
                BMJ Publishing Group (BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JR )
                5 November 2020
                : 10
                : 11
                : e040503
                [1 ]departmentDepartment of Targeted Intervention , University College London , London, UK
                [2 ]departmentInstitute of Epidemiology and Healthcare , University College London , London, UK
                [3 ]departmentInstitute of Population Health Sciences , Queen Mary University of London , London, UK
                [4 ]Institute of Global Health, University College London , London, UK
                [5 ]departmentDepartment of Anthropology , University College London , London, UK
                [6 ]departmentHarvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences , Harvard University , Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
                [7 ]departmentMarie Curie Palliative Care Research Department, Division of Psychiatry , University College London , London, United Kingdom
                [8 ]departmentOxford Vaccine Group, Centre for Clinical Vaccinology and Tropical Medicine (CCVTM) , Oxford University , Oxford, Oxfordshire, UK
                [9 ]departmentSchool for Policy Studies , Bristol University , Bristol, United Kingdom
                Author notes
                [Correspondence to ] Cecilia Vindrola-Padros; c.vindrola@ 123456ucl.ac.uk
                Author information
                © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2020. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.

                This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:  http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.

                : 15 May 2020
                : 07 October 2020
                : 18 October 2020
                Qualitative Research
                Original research
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                organisation of health services,qualitative research,infectious diseases,covid-19
                organisation of health services, qualitative research, infectious diseases, covid-19


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