About the project
This project extends from the NHS at 70 project, to investigate, identify, and document the impacts of the pandemic on healthcare workers and patients. It was based on over 2,000 interviews, recorded remotely by volunteers, of NHS staff, clinical leaders, policy makers and patients.
For policy makers
The project illuminates the lived experience of the pandemic from many different viewpoints, and identifies its many social, emotional and organisational impacts. It not only facilitates an evaluation of government response and interventions in healthcare during the pandemic. The historical grounding of this analysis within a longitudinal study of the NHS also illuminates the structural issues, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
The project highlights the exceptional impact of the pandemic on frontline workers. Health workers are facing a crisis, dealing with the rise of physical and verbal abuse, and the stress of balancing unrealistic targets during a public health emergency. The research showed widespread exhaustion and burnout amongst healthcare staff, and low morale, as well as the impact of the crisis on longstanding staff shortages as more workers leave.
Key policy recommendations include:
- Health workers need vital provision for mental health and other forms of care. Workers reported their desire for external support systems, to allay fears about seeking care in the work place.
- Establish public dialogues – to create an informed public discussion, which will help modify or change public expectations regarding treatment.
- Longer-term structural issues must be addressed in ‘building back better’, such as the interrelated issues of workforce shortages, structural racism, and discrimination. They demand a policy approach that does not treat workforce issues and immigration legislation as separate policy streams.