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Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the RCSLT has been working to monitor and address the needs of members. Since May, members have been participating in a regular survey evaluating the experiences of healthcare professionals during the pandemic, conducted by Research by Design.
 
The ninth and final ‘wave’ of this survey has now been completed, and the results from all nine waves provide valuable insight into the profession’s response to the pandemic. 

Wellbeing

Over the course of the survey we see a slight upwards trend in life satisfaction and happiness, but there is evidence that anxiety levels (having decreased slightly since May) may now be on the rise again. The latest wave saw 40% of respondents reporting high anxiety—the highest proportion measured at any point in the research.
 
Throughout the survey, the most prominent concern impacting members’ wellbeing has been concern for the health of friends and family. There is some evidence that workplace stress may be on the rise, with a steady increase in those complaining of low morale at work, from 18% in wave 1 to 27% now. Similarly, difficulties arising from staff shortages have risen from 7% to 20%.
 
Members report that ‘unfamiliar ways of working’ has been the most challenging aspect of the pandemic for them over the past few months. This continues to be a concern today, with 45% citing this among the factors having the biggest impact on their current wellbeing.

Work environment

The vast majority of RCSLT members have worked throughout the pandemic, with 93% working today. The proportion working with COVID-19 patients has decreased over the course of the survey, from 28% in wave 1 to around a fifth (18%) now.
 
Throughout the pandemic, the most common way in which members have described their work environment is ‘unpredictable’, followed closely by ‘emotionally challenging’, and this remains the case today.
 
The third most common descriptor, ‘intense’, has increased in usage throughout the survey, with 45% using it in wave 9. Members are also increasingly likely to describe their work as:

  • ‘Overwhelming’ (from 28% in wave 1 to 36% in wave 9)
  • ‘Stretching’ (from 26% to 33%)
  • ‘Relentless’ (from 18% to 32%)

This suggests that the pressure is building on members to manage heavy workloads, which may explain the increase in anxiety.
 
However, the majority of members have said the RCSLT has done a good job of supporting them throughout the pandemic, and have consistently said they are ‘very likely’ to renew their membership. 

Optimism for the future

Optimism for the future, having fluctuated slightly throughout the course of the survey, has unfortunately dropped in the most recent wave (46%, down from 59% in wave 1) — although more members remain optimistic than pessimistic.
 
Members anticipate a second wave of COVID-19 and difficult working conditions in the coming months, and will need the continued support of the RCSLT to manage the challenges ahead.
 
For RCSLT guidance and information relating to COVID-19, see our dedicated website hub
 
The RCSLT enquiries team is available to assist with all member queries: email info@rcslt.org or phone 020 7378 3012