Almost 70% of staff at a Cork emergency department (ED) who were surveyed for a study looking at the impact of Covid-19on wellbeing reported burnout.
The study examined the degree of burnout among ED staff at both Cork University Hospital (CUH) and St James’s Hospital Dublin (SJH) in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A total of 99 participants across two departments responded. This included 51 people at CUH out of 176 people working there.
People across a range of roles were surveyed.
The study found that burnout was identified in almost three-quarters of respondents (74%), with CUH reporting a lower rate of burnout (67%) than SJH (81%).
The study also looked at the impacts of a variety of factors associated with the pandemic on mental wellbeing.
It found the increased requirement for social distancing both between staff and outside of work was associated with a negative impact on staff wellbeing. It said that an increased requirement for personal protective equipment was also seen as having a negative impact on wellbeing by most staff.
However, the authors noted that a number of the changes seen in the EDs were associated with a positive impact on staff wellbeing.
“A decrease in visitors attending the ED with patients was perhaps surprisingly viewed as positive by most staff,” said the study authors, writing in the Irish Journal of Medical Science.
“This change could potentially be maintained in the post-pandemic world of the future.”
However, they noted that more research needs to be carried out on this topic and, in particular, an investigation into the impact such a change may have on patients and relatives.
They said changes to the structure and layout of the ED were also deemed positive by many staff.
The authors said the findings reiterate that almost three-quarters of ED staff are experiencing significant levels of burnoutand that healthcare workers are exhausted.
“The trajectory of this disease is still unclear. Consistent, progressive measures to address staff wellbeing, and support frontline workers, are imperative going forward.”