Should I stay or should I go? - NHS staff retention in a post COVID19 world, challenges and prospects

Project: Research council

Project Details


Across the UK the Covid-19 pandemic has imposed unprecedented demands on NHS staff and resources. Issues of capacity - in trained staff, hospital beds, and other vital equipment (PPE and ventilators) - have been critical in determining government policy in managing the crisis. Staff shortages and finding ways to increase rates of staff retention is a long-established challenge for the NHS but, comes into even sharper focus in the context of managing Covid-19 cases, as well as the backlog of care / treatment delayed by the pandemic.
Little is known of the impact of the expeeence of the acute demand for services during spring 2020, and the unknowable profile of demand over coming months on NHS staff resilience, in particular their capacity and willingness to continue to meet the unprecedented demand for care, and associated impacts on their health and wellbeing.
This research sets out to answer the questions:
(i) How will the Covid-19 pandemic impact on staffing resources in the short and longer term?
(ii) How long will NHS staff be able/prepared to meet the amplified job demands directly associated with the epidemic and the backlog of demand for non-COVID treatment?
(iii) What impact will the legacy of the COVID-19 crisis have on the resolve of NHS employees to remain in the NHS employment?
(iv) What might need to change to sustain current NHS employees remaining; motivate those who returned in response to the request from the UK Government and attract recent leavers to return to NHS employment?
These questions will be answered using date from an array of complementary sources: a bespoke UK-wide NHS employee survey; case studies of four NHS Trusts and interrogation of established (secondary) data sources (the UK Labour Force and NHS staff surveys).
The return of substantial numbers of ex-NHS staff (~27,000), following the Government appeal, is of notable interest, as it directs attention to an untapped resource normally lost to the NHS.
Effective start/end date30/11/201/03/22

Collaborative partners


  • Economic and Social Research Council

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being


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