As a result of the pandemic, one in two intensive care staff would benefit from psychological intervention.
Recent studies of ICU staff wellbeing reported that 45% met the threshold for significant psychological harm.
As of January 2021, an extra 2251 intensive care beds have been created across the UK. This is the same as building 141 new 16-bed ICUs across the country.
The 30,000 strong baseline network of ICU staff has worked more than one million extra hours per month to care for these patients, but have still been forced to dilute staff to patient ratios.
In normal winter conditions a doctor will look after up to 12 patients per shift. Now, this same doctor looks after between 16 and 33 patients. A Psychologist, who would normally see 10 patients, now cares for between 69 and 134.
Nurses are among the worst affected. They now care for three times as many patients per shift and each one requires their undivided attention (learn more about staff to patient ratios via our restitution and recovery policy statement
On top of being overstretched, under extreme pressure, and working without a break since March 2020, intensive care staff have also seen more death in the past year than they will have in their entire careers. This end of life care has also become more emotionally draining due to stretched capacity and hospital visiting restrictions.
Protecting this frontline has never been so crucial. For the past year we have been running an urgent public appeal which has allowed us to offer psychological PPE to the intensive care community. Led by our Director for Wellbeing, Dr Julie Highfield, we’ve been providing tailored support to help staff come to terms with what they’ve faced over the past 12 months.
While restrictions will ease, and our lives will return to the new normal, intensive care staff will still be dealing with the impact of COVID for years to come, while continuing to care for all others also needing ICU. Intensive care will always be the safety net of the NHS, so for now and for our futures, please help us to provide essential care to those who have so tirelessly cared for us.