Pandemic impact on senior charge nurses and midwives explored

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The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on senior charge nurses and midwives will be explored as part of a new University of Stirling study.

Experts from the University's Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport (FHSS) will lead the project which is seeking to understand the unique pandemic challenges and experiences of the group, who provide frontline clinical and professional leadership to more than 40 per cent of the National Health Service (NHS) workforce.

The new study will focus on the NHS Grampian and NHS Lothian health boards – however, its findings will be of significance for health services across Scotland and further afield.


Dr Kathleen Stoddart, Senior Lecturer in Health Sciences, will lead the study, which also involves colleagues from Stirling, both health boards and Glasgow Caledonian University.

Dr Stoddart said: “The pandemic has had an impact on all areas of the NHS, however, those in frontline management positions – such as Senior Charge Nurses, Midwives, and Team Leaders – have faced unique challenges over the past 16 months.

“This group has had to provide leadership during one of the most turbulent and transformational periods in the history of the NHS. They have had to react to a changing clinical environment – for example the repurposing of services, the conversion of wards to COVID-19 'red zones', and the movement and redeployment of staff, to name just a few.

“The impact of these significant, wide ranging and rapid changes has affected not only this group, but has had a ripple effect on those teams they manage too.

“Working with our partners, we are keen to understand the impact of the pandemic on the NHS frontline, to help inform and support the restoration and recalibration of services in the future.”

Dr Kathleen Stoddart

Dr Kathleen Stoddart, of the University of Stirling, is leading the study.

The team will conduct an online survey and undertake interviews to understand the experiences, effects and challenges experienced by the group; identify effective mitigation measures being used; explore support strategies that the group find helpful; and elicit their views on the transition to post COVID-19 services. The study – funded by NHS Grampian and NHS Lothian – is expected to report its findings early next year.

Professor Suzanne Hagen, of Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), said: “I am delighted to be involved in this study. We know through our nurse education and research here at GCU the unique and pivotal role that senior charge nurses play in the NHS. We want to be able to learn from their recent experiences to support them going forward.”

Dr Stoddart is supported by co-Principal Investigator Dr Carol Bugge, Dr Melanie Dembinsky, and Kathleen Clarke (all of the FHSS); Professor Ronan O’Carroll (Faculty of Natural Sciences at the University of Stirling); Professor Suzanne Hagen (Glasgow Caledonian University); Professor Caroline Hiscox (NHS Grampian); and Dr Juliet MacArthur (NHS Lothian).

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