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Service evaluation of a COVID-19 critical care orientation programme

21 April 2022
17 min read
Volume 31 · Issue 8



During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK, south London had the highest number of COVID-19 patients admitted to critical care. At one hospital, staff being redeployed to critical care were invited to attend an orientation to critical care workshop.


To carry out a service evaluation of the training outcomes from rapidly redeployed staff who completed the workshop during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic (March–July 2020).


Two stages were used, the first was a post-workshop evaluation questionnaire completed immediately after the training, with the second involving a single centre e-survey questionnaire two months later.


In total 131 health professionals attended the workshop, and 124 (95%) post-course evaluations were completed. Some 116 staff were contacted for the e-survey, with a response rate of 34% (n=40). Overall, the training was well evaluated. Of the 40 respondents, 70% (n=28) had volunteered, but only just over half (n=21, 52%) went on to work in critical care.


This article describes the organisational response of one NHS acute hospital to the unprecedented challenges that arose from the COVID-19 pandemic. The service evaluation identified the importance of a pedagogical approach, which not only delivered clinical content, but also allayed anxiety for health professionals preparing to work in a new environment.

The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), termed COVID-19, remains a public health emergency of international concern (World Health Organization (WHO), 2020). Its major impact has been on healthcare systems, which have had to rapidly adapt to respond to the high numbers of patients requiring critical care (Wu and McGoogan, 2020). As a result, health professionals working in non-critical care settings were redeployed into acute and critical care areas. In the first wave of COVID-19 in the UK, south London had the greatest burden from COVID-19, with critical care admissions of confirmed cases exceeding 1200 (Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC), 2020). University Hospital Lewisham (UHL) is an NHS district general hospital in south London. Prior to the pandemic, the hospital consisted of 470 beds and an 18-bed critical care unit (8 intensive care (level 3) beds and 10 high dependency (level 2) beds. At UHL critical care capacity was increased to 26 level 3 beds; however, at times capacity peaked over four-fold to 34 patients requiring ventilation. To alleviate pressure and create additional critical care capacity, patients were transferred to neighbouring teaching hospitals that had a much larger pre-pandemic critical care capacity (Isted et al, 2020). This article outlines the results from a service evaluation of redeployed clinical staff at UHL during the first wave of the pandemic (March to July 2020).

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