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Lived Experience Of Long-term Covid-19 On NHS Workers In Scotland

29th May 2021

Robert Gordon's University is leading a £294,000 study to understand the impact of the longer-term effects of COVID-19 on the lived experiences, health, and wellbeing of NHS workers in Scotland.
Funded by the Scottish Government's Chief Scientist Office, this study will explore the effects of COVID-19 on the personal and working lives of NHS staff; their self-management strategies, use of healthcare resources, and seek to uncover any unmet health care needs.

By nature of their employment, NHS workers have a greater occupational risk than the general population: in Scotland, healthcare workers and their households contributed to a sixth of COVID-19 cases admitted to hospital.

The two-year study will be led by RGU Senior Research Fellows Dr Aileen Grant and Dr Nicola Torrance and will involve colleagues from the Universities of Aberdeen and St Andrews.

Dr Grant says: "The findings will help to improve the support and care available to NHS staff affected by long COVID and ultimately inform policy, practice, and research recommendations, including NHS workforce planning needs. Health and social care services and health boards in Scotland are experiencing heightened staff shortages as a result of the pandemic, as staff respond expediently to changes in service delivery and accommodate for staff sickness and absence caused by either contracting the disease or having to self-isolate.

"Given the number of people reporting lasting and debilitating effects of COVID-19, this is of urgent importance to maintain services and support for the population of Scotland—and of critical consideration for NHS staff."

Dr Torrance adds: “Long-COVID is the name patients gave to the more complex and debilitating symptoms that followed on from when they first contracted COVID-19. Most people's symptoms resolve after a few weeks, however there is a growing body of evidence that the longer-term effects of COVID can affect multiple systems in the body, resulting in varying degrees of incapacity.

“Some people, whose initial symptoms were mild, may go on to develop lasting symptoms that have a detrimental impact on their quality of life, such as physical fatigue, shortness of breath, ‘brain fog, heart, lung, kidney, and generalised pain are all among the reported signs and symptoms. In addition to having all these effects, doctors and other clinicians have described how their symptoms, and the accompanying prognostic uncertainty, had stripped them of confidence in their professional abilities."

The multidisciplinary research team also includes Dr Flora Douglas, Professor Catriona Kennedy, and Professor Angela Kydd from RGU, as well as Dr Virginia Hernandez Santiago from the University of St Andrews and Dr Diane Skatun from the University of Aberdeen.

This project received more than £294,000 in funding through the Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office’s Long-term effects of COVID-19 research funding call. A total of £2.5 million has been allocated to 9 research projects that address key questions to increase the clinically relevant knowledge base on long-term effects of COVID-19 infection.