Adams JG, Walls RM. Supporting the health care workforce during the COVID-19 global epidemic. JAMA. 2020; 323:(15)1439-1440

Altman DG. Practical statistics for medical research.London: Chapman and Hall; 1991

Babore A, Lombardi L, Viceconti ML Psychological effects of the COVID-2019 pandemic: perceived stress and coping strategies among healthcare professionals. Psychiatry Res. 2020; 293

Bordia P, Hunt E, Paulsen N, Tourish D, DiFonzo N. Uncertainty during organizational change: is it all about control?. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology. 2004; 13:(3)345-365

Boxall P, Huo ML, Winterton J. How do workers benefit from skill utilisation and how can these benefits be enhanced?. Journal of Industrial Relations. 2019; 61:(5)704-725

British Foreign Policy Group. COVID-19 timeline. 2021. (accessed 14 June 2021)

Carnevale JB, Hatak I. Employee adjustment and well-being in the era of COVID-19: implications for human resource management. J Bus Res. 2020; 116:183-187

Considine J, Shaban RZ, Patrick J Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza in Australia: absenteeism and redeployment of emergency medicine and nursing staff. Emerg Med Australas. 2011; 23:(5)615-623

Dawson KM, O'Brien KE, Beehr TA. The role of hindrance stressors in the job demand-control-support model of occupational stress: a proposed theory revision. Journal of Organizational Behavior. 2016; 37:(3)397-415

Duddle M, Boughton M. Development and psychometric testing of the Nursing Workplace Relational Environment Scale (NWRES). J Clin Nurs. 2009; 18:(6)902-909

Duffield CM, Roche MA, Blay N, Stasa H. Nursing unit managers, staff retention and the work environment. J Clin Nurs. 2011; 20:(1-2)23-33

Ferres N, Connell J, Travaglione A. The effect of future redeployment on organizational trust. Strateg Change. 2005; 14:(2)77-91

Greenberg N, Docherty M, Gnanapragasam S, Wessely S. Managing mental health challenges faced by healthcare workers during Covid-19 pandemic. BMJ. 2020; 368

Habib A, Zinn PO. Optimizing clinical staffing in times of a pandemic crisis such as COVID-19. Anesth Analg. 2020; 131:(1)e45-e47

Hughes P, Morgan RE, Hodgkinson IR, Kouropalatis Y, Lindgreen A. A diagnostic tool to determine a strategic improvisation Readiness Index Score (IRIS) to survive, adapt, and thrive in a crisis. Ind Mark Manage. 2020; 88:485-499

Huo ML, Boxall P, Cheung GW. Lean production, work intensification and employee wellbeing: Can line-manager support make a difference? Economic and Industrial Democracy. 2019;

John Hopkins University. COVID-19 dashboard 13 October 2020. 2020. (accessed 17 June 202)

Sick of your colleagues' absence?. 2009. (accessed 14 June 2021)

Kish-Gephart JJ, Detert JR, Treviño LK, Edmondson AC. Silenced by fear: the nature, sources, and consequences of fear at work. Research in Organizational Behavior. 2009; 29:163-193

Labrague LJ, Santos JAA. Fear of COVID-19, psychological distress, work satisfaction and turnover intention among frontline nurses. J Nurs Manag. 2020; 00

Lapeña-Moñux YR, Cibanal-Juan L, Maciá-Soler ML, Orts-Cortés MI, Pedraz-Marcos A. Interpersonal relations and nurses' job satisfaction through knowledge and usage of relational skills. Appl Nurs Res. 2015; 28:(4)257-261

Maben J, Bridges J. Covid-19: supporting nurses' psychological and mental health. J Clin Nurs. 2020; 29:(15-16)2742-2750

Majersik JJ, Reddy VK. Acute neurology during the COVID-19 pandemic. Neurology. 2020; 94:(24)1055-1057

Matthewson J, Tiplady A, Gerakios F, Foley A, Murphy E. Implementation and analysis of a telephone support service during COVID-19. Occupational Medicine. 2020; 70:(5)375-38

Maunder RG, Leszcz M, Savage D Applying the lessons of SARS to pandemic influenza: an evidence-based approach to mitigating the stress experienced by healthcare workers. Can J Public Health. 2008; 99:(6)486-488

Newnam S, Goode N. Communication in the workplace: defining the conversations of supervisors. J Safety Res. 2019; 70:19-23

National Institute for Health Research. Q&A on the impact of COVID-19 on research funded or supported by NIHR. 2020. (accessed 14 June 2020)

Rangachari P, Woods JL. Preserving organizational resilience, patient safety, and staff retention during COVID-19 requires a holistic consideration of the psychological safety of healthcare workers. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020; 17:(12)

Rimmer A. How can I cope with redeployment?. BMJ. 2020; 368

Ruiz MA, Gibson CAM. Emotional impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on U.S. health care workers: A gathering storm. Psychol Trauma. 2020; 12:(S1)S153-S155

Shevchuk A, Strebkov D, Davis SN. Skill mismatch and work–life conflict: the mediating role of job satisfaction. J Educ Work. 2019; 32:(2)181-195

Tavabie S, Bass S, Stewart E, Redmore E, Minton O. 2020. Care of the dying person before and during the COVID-19 pandemic: a quality improvement project. Future Healthcare Journal. 2020; 7:(3)e50-e53

Veshne N. Role of supervisor's communication in employee engagement & employee wellbeing. Ushus Journal of Business Management. 2017; 16:(3)27-38

Willan J, King AJ, Jeffery K, Bienz N. Challenges for NHS hospitals during Covid-19 epidemic. BMJ. 2020; 368

Woodford H, Gunning H, Langdon S, Whelan J. Aiding staff wellbeing and resilience during the coronavirus pandemic. Nursing Times. 2020; 116:(9)20-23

Redeployment during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic: implications for a clinical research workforce

24 June 2021
15 min read
Volume 30 · Issue 12



Health professionals are considered a group vulnerable to developing mental health symptoms during a pandemic, with redeployment being a risk factor. However, previous literature suggests workplace communication can be a protective element.


An audit aimed to evaluate NHS research staff's experiences of redeployment in order to provide suggestions for future improvements in the process.


A questionnaire was disseminated to all staff in the clinical research directorate of an NHS trust. Responses were analysed using thematic analysis.


Over half the redeployed staff experienced perceived negative psychological outcomes. The main reported contributor to this was perceived lack of communication.


Communication needs to be improved in future redeployments. Future research should consider a larger cohort and more input from team members who remained on the pre-COVID-19 studies in order to improve the transition back from redeployment.

In December 2019, a previously unknown acute viral respiratory disease was identified in Wuhan, China. This disease, caused by a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and now known as COVID-19, quickly began to spread across the world. On January 29 2020 the first two patients were diagnosed and quarantined in the UK (British Foreign Policy Group (BFPG), 2020). At the time of publication (mid-June 2021), UK COVID-19-related death rates sit at 127 926 from 4 589 814 known cases. Worldwide COVID-19-related deaths number 3 834 951 people, from 177 120 609 known global cases (John Hopkins University, 2021).

This emerging international healthcare crisis required the NHS to maximise its frontline workforce fast, allowing very little time for detailed planning due to the speed at which the pandemic was proliferating (Majersik and Reddy, 2020). The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) responded to the COVID-19 crisis in March 2020. Those NIHR-funded clinical and academic health professionals, who were not already working on COVID-19-focused studies, were released to be redeployed as required within the NHS national pandemic response (NIHR 2020). Staff were thus redeployed to assist with the COVID-19 efforts, in both acute-care COVID-19 environments and COVID-19-focused clinical trials, with the remaining staff left to maintain pre-pandemic non-COVID-19 research. The exact number of NIHR-funded health professionals who were redeployed nationally is not currently available in the public domain; however, the reduction in staffing in existing research teams resulted in a much reduced capacity for non-COVID-19 research (NIHR, 2020). Consequently, research staff had to adapt quickly to new workloads and modified ways of working.

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting British Journal of Nursing and reading some of our peer-reviewed resources for nurses. To read more, please register today. You’ll enjoy the following great benefits:

What's included

  • Limited access to clinical or professional articles

  • Unlimited access to the latest news, blogs and video content