Training for some nursing staff redeployed to front line care of Covid-19 patients has been inadequate or non-existent, according to new survey results.

The ICON study is a longitudinal survey to evaluate the impact of Covid-19 on the UK nursing and midwifery workforce. The survey is being undertaken at three time-points: prior to Covid-19 peak, during the Covid-19 peak, and in the recovery period following Covid-19.

Early results of the first survey (prior to Covid-19 peak) found that of those being redeployed within the NHS, 62% either reported that their training was either non-existent, or inadequate. Also 74% felt their personal health was at risk during Covid-19 due to their clinical role and 92% were worried about risks to family members.

The ICON 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, University of Nottingham, 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.

Individuals do not feel adequately prepared for the pandemic 

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

Ruth Harris, Professor of Health Care for Older Adults in the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care at King’s College London, said: "These initial findings show that individuals do not feel adequately prepared for the pandemic and are concerned about the risk to themselves and their families. They also highlight a need for ongoing training and confidence building and that optimising healthcare worker testing may reduce the number of missed shifts due to self-isolation."

Initial findings include:

  • Almost one-third (33%) respondents reported severe or extremely severe depression, anxiety or stress.
  • 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.

Dr Keith Couper, Assistant Professor in Emergency and Critical Care at the University of Warwick and project lead, added: "The responses from this first survey show there is a need to provide supportive interventions during and after Covid-19 to support individual’s psychological and physical needs. Healthcare employers should advocate self-care and provide a psychologically safe workplace where individuals can openly discuss their concerns. Urgent research is needed to develop and evaluate interventions to support individuals."