The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE) is calling for the UK Government to set up a task force to assess the short-, medium- and long-term health and well-being effect of COVID-19 on health care workers.
The remit of the task force should include investigating whether adequate resources - especially time, staff and equipment - are available to maintain service activity, whether related to COVID-19 or not, taking into account the significant clinical demands of infection control, increased patient demand and different working practices during the pandemic, the RCPE said.
The College’s call comes on World Patient Safety Day (17 September), which has a slogan this year of “safe health workers, safe patients.” The campaign seeks to highlight and recognise health workers’ efforts to provide safe health care every day for their patients in the UK and around the world.
In October 2019, before the pandemic, 69 per cent of the 8656 doctors who responded to the annual physicians’ census said that working conditions had affected their morale.
The College is also using World Patient Safety day to highlight the importance of non-pharmaceutical interventions that people and communities can take to help slow the spread of coronavirus.
Prof Angela Thomas, Acting President of the RCPE, said the COVID-19 pandemic has been, and continues to be, a challenging period for health care workers in the UK.
“But at this juncture, our thoughts must turn to how we can support the profession to continue the fight against COVID-19, while protecting their time to train, time to research and time to develop their knowledge and skills."
“There must be recognition from government that the people who care for the nation's health – our healthcare workers – must themselves be cared for, in terms of their physical and emotional wellbeing."