SCENIC: Surmounting COVID Challenges, Experiences of Nurses in Charge

Funded by NHS Lothian and NHS Grampian.

Collaboration with Glasgow Caledonian University.

Rationale Senior Charge Nurses (SCNs) provide frontline clinical and professional leadership to over 40% of the NHS workforce. The repurposing of services during COVID-19 markedly changed the known clinical environment for SCNs. The effects experienced recently will last well beyond the acute pandemic phase, with ongoing service changes anticipated.
Aim This study addresses the urgent need to understand and learn from the challenges experienced by SCNs involved in the COVID-19 response, and how to mitigate their impact in current and future pandemics. The intention is to learn from those in the front line, what worked well, what did not and what could be done better in future. The study also addresses the forward-looking views of SCNs as they conceptualise the future.


  1. To examine the outcomes for SCNs including job satisfaction; wellbeing; mental health; intention to stay in post.
  2. To understand the experiences of, and effects and challenges experienced by SCNs during COVID-19.
  3. To identify what approaches SCNs are using to mitigate pandemic challenges and which approaches are helpful.
  4. To identify the views of SCNs about strategies they think will support them for the duration of COVID-19 Alert, and beyond.
  5. To elicit the views of SCNs about the possible features of transition to post COVID-19 services with a view to inform the shape of future SCN training and service.

Methodology and methods A Scotland wide study would be highly desirable to acquire the most comprehensive data using mixed methods. We would conduct an electronic survey of all SCNs including job satisfaction; wellbeing; mental health; intention to stay in post. We would interview in depth a sample of SCNs from across Scotland and seek to recruit a sample of 50. Interviews would be carried out via Teams or phone at the SCNs convenience.

Importance and deliverables This study addresses the unique and urgent challenges experienced by Senior Charge Nurses (SCNs) involved in the COVID-19 response, and how to mitigate the impact of these challenges.
As Band 7 team leaders SCNs are the guardians of person centred, safe and effective patient care. SCNs across Scotland lead teams of clinically focussed nurses. Any impact on SCNs has a potential ripple effect to the teams they lead. Because SCNs provide core leadership functions to 40% of NHS staff, the research is vital to ensure that their views and experience of COVID-19 is captured to provide key learning about their leadership and challenges which can be shared widely.
The repurposing of services during COVID-19 changed the known clinical environment for SCNs who had to adapt quickly to lead and manage care in a pandemic. SCNs have experienced substantial changes including repurposing of clinical areas; redeployment; leading reconstituted and unfamiliar teams. In addition, new ways of working necessitated by COVID-19 have had a major impact on SCNs experience currently and during NHS restoration. Service restoration is likely to involve redesign with new models of care which creates a further challenge for SCNs. The experience of, and impacts on, SCNs during COVID-19 is unknown but is urgently needed to inform accurately directed mitigation of those challenges, responses to future pandemics and development of new models of care and leadership.

Total award value £36,778.00

People (3)


Dr Kathleen Stoddart

Dr Kathleen Stoddart

Senior Lecturer, Health Sciences

Dr Kathleen Clarke

Dr Kathleen Clarke

Lecturer, Health Sciences Stirling

Professor Ronan O'Carroll

Professor Ronan O'Carroll

Professor, Psychology


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