Health and Social Care workers' quality of working life and coping while working during the COVID-19 pandemic 17th November2020-1st February 2021: Findings from a UK Survey. Report 2: This is the report from Phase 2 of the HSC Workforce Study.

Paula Mc Fadden, Patricia Gillen, John Moriarty, John Mallett, Heike Schröder, Jermaine Ravalier, Jill Manthorpe, Denise Currie, Patricia Nicholl, Daniel McFadden, Jana Ross

Research output: Book/ReportOther report


This research was inspired by the research interests of the research team, who have engaged in several
research projects together over recent years. Interests from this group centre on workforce wellbeing,
resilience and burnout research. This area of research interest can be viewed as workforce
epidemiology, with a focus on health and wellbeing at work.
The COVID-19 pandemic has tested the resilience of the health and social care workforce, like no other
time known to those of us from the Baby Boomer generation upwards. We know that prior to this
pandemic, the health and social care workforce were already stretched and working under pressures
evolving from ‘business as usual’ periods. The results of this, the second of three phases of this study,
(November – January 2021) provides evidence of increasing pressures and simultaneous decline in
workforce wellbeing since the first survey period (May - July 2020). Whilst this is not surprising, and is
already known anecdotally, we provide some detail in the analysis about what factors contributed to
increased or decreased wellbeing, work-related quality of life, and burnout during this period
(November – January 2021).
The qualitative responses to questions about experiences of working during the pandemic provided a
rich context that helped with the interpretation of results from the quantitative findings, so the
research team could discuss the main messages, recurring themes and any outlier findings from the
data. From these results we have confirmed that the over-arching themes of Changing Conditions,
Connections and Communication remain relevant.
In order to share the headlines from the results, we have provided an overview of the qualitative
results and integrated, where relevant, some of the quantitative findings and Focus Group data (with
managers and frontline workers) to illustrate specific findings. Not all the quantitative results are in
the main section of the report, but all results can be found in the appendices. This is due to the
extensive reporting we have done.
We have provided an appendix, with both ‘weighted’ and ‘unweighted’ quantitative results. The
‘weighted’ results have been analysed to allow for distributions according to country and professional
group and enable statistical comparisons to be made. The raw (unweighted) data is also provided for
At the time of writing, the latest UK COVID-19 pandemic surge appears to be in decline. Reports on
reducing hospital admissions, reduction to Intensive Care Units (ICUs), reduction in deaths, decline in
positive cases, and increases in vaccination roll-out coupled with a prolonged lock-down, show some
promise. However, no-one can predict how the virus will mutate and provide new challenges.
Notwithstanding, unknown spikes or future surges, the current narrative is now about recovery,
rebuilding and resetting the workforce. We hope our research has assisted in those efforts and our
Good Practice Recommendations will contribute to guidance that is based on the workforce ‘voice’,
as provided from this research effort.
We thank those that participated in this study during the most challenging and difficult period we ever
imagined. We are grateful to you for the time you have given, and we promise to ensure your voice is
heard as we disseminate these results.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBelfast
PublisherUlster University
Number of pages364
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 22 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Statement: This research is funded by the Public Health Agency R&D Division in Northern
Ireland and supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Policy Research
Programme, through the Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce, PR-PRU-1217-
21202. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the funder or the NIHR Policy Research Programme.


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