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PLoS One ; 17(3): e0264906, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1745315


OBJECTIVE: To identify the experiences and concerns of health workers (HWs), and how they changed, throughout the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. METHODS: Longitudinal, qualitative study with HWs involved in patient management or delivery of care related to COVID-19 in general practice, emergency departments and hospitals. Participants were identified through snowballing. Semi-structured telephone or video interviews were conducted between February 2020 and February 2021, audio-recorded, summarised, and transcribed. Data were analysed longitudinally using framework and thematic analysis. RESULTS: We conducted 105 interviews with 14 participants and identified three phases corresponding with shifts in HWs' experiences and concerns. (1) Emergency and mobilisation phase (late winter-spring 2020), with significant rapid shifts in responsibilities, required skills, and training, and challenges in patient care. (2) Consolidation and preparation phase (summer-autumn 2020), involving gradual return to usual care and responsibilities, sense of professional development and improvement in care, and focus on learning and preparing for future. (3) Exhaustion and survival phase (autumn 2020-winter 2021), entailing return of changes in responsibilities, focus on balancing COVID-19 and non-COVID care (until becoming overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases), and concerns about longer-term impacts of unceasing pressure on health services. Participants' perceptions of COVID-19 risk and patient/public attitudes changed throughout the year, and tiredness and weariness turned into exhaustion. CONCLUSIONS: Results showed a long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on UK HWs' experiences and concerns related to changes in their roles, provision of care, and personal wellbeing. Despite mobilisation in the emergency phase, and trying to learn from this, HWs' experiences seemed to be similar or worse in the second wave partly due to many COVID-19 cases. The findings highlight the importance of supporting HWs and strengthening system-level resilience (e.g., with resources, processes) to enable them to respond to current and future demands and emergencies.

COVID-19/epidemiology , Delivery of Health Care/trends , Health Personnel/psychology , COVID-19/psychology , Clinical Competence , Disease Management , Hospitals , Humans , Longitudinal Studies , Qualitative Research , United Kingdom/epidemiology
Antibiotics (Basel) ; 10(12)2021 Dec 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1572351


The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the delivery of primary care services. We aimed to identify general practitioners' (GPs') perceptions and experiences of how the COVID-19 pandemic influenced antibiotic prescribing and antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) in general practice in England. Twenty-four semi-structured interviews were conducted with 18 GPs at two time-points: autumn 2020 (14 interviews) and spring 2021 (10 interviews). Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and analysed thematically, taking a longitudinal approach. Participants reported a lower threshold for antibiotic prescribing (and fewer consultations) for respiratory infections and COVID-19 symptoms early in the pandemic, then returning to more usual (pre-pandemic) prescribing. They perceived the pandemic as having had less impact on antibiotic prescribing for urinary and skin infections. Participants perceived the changing ways of working and consulting (e.g., proportions of remote and in-person consultations) in addition to changing patient presentations and GP workloads as influencing the fluctuations in antibiotic prescribing. This was compounded by decreased engagement with, and priority of, AMS due to COVID-19-related urgent priorities. Re-engagement with AMS is needed, e.g., through reviving antibiotic prescribing feedback and targets/incentives. The pandemic disrupted, and required adaptations in, the usual ways of working and AMS. It is now important to identify opportunities, e.g., for re-organising ways of managing infections and AMS in the future.