The British Association of Critical Care Nurses (BACCN) has become the latest organisation to give its backing to the Nursing Times Covid-19: Are you OK? campaign.
“Critical care is an extremely stressful environment to work in, with around one third of CCNs experiencing severe burnout”
The BACCN is a leading non-profit organisation dedicated to the promotion of nursing in critical care, with around 2,000 members from across the UK and beyond.
Among the association’s aims are to provide a national voice to shape the strategy for critical care nursing and to promote safe, quality evidence-based nursing care to the critically ill patient.
It has been an influential voice during the coronavirus pandemic, highlighting the challenges faced by nursing staff working in critical care settings, where many Covid-19 patients have been treated.
In particular, it has raised concerns about changes made to nurse-to-patient ratios in intensive care units during the pandemic and the negative impact that could have on hard-pressed nurses.
BACCN said it was delighted to be part of the Covid-19: Are You OK? campaign and it was “absolutely imperative” to identify psychological distress early and support staff wellbeing as a “key priority”.
Nursing Times launched the Covid-19: Are You OK? campaign in April to first raise awareness of the mental health pressures and wellbeing needs of nurses during and after the coronavirus pandemic.
We have now launched the second phase of the campaign, which partly involves calling on relevant organisations, including charities, unions and other representative bodies, to support its aims.
Secondly, we are also actively asking employers from the health and care sector to back the aims of the campaign and make a public pledge to do so.
As a result, we aim to contact the majority of NHS acute, specialist, community and mental health providers in the coming weeks to see if they will sign the campaign pledge.
In signing up to support the campaign, employers are pledging to provide easily accessible formal mental health and wellbeing support to staff for as long as it is needed.
They are also agreeing to foster a culture of mutual support, in which staff are alert to the possibility that colleagues may be experiencing problems as a result of their work during the pandemic.
In addition, they are pledging to ensure staff experiencing problems know they will receive a positive, supportive response by disclosing them and that it will not be viewed as a sign of weakness.
Thank you very much to the BACCN for becoming one of the key nursing organisations to publicly support Covid-19: Are You OK?
Nicki Credland, chair of the BACCN and a lecturer in critical care and advanced practice at the University of Hull, noted that ICU was already a high-pressure work environment before Covid-19.
She said: “Critical care is an extremely stressful environment to work in, with around one third of critical care nurses (CCNs) experiencing severe burnout, and 86% experiencing one of its three classic symptoms of exhaustion, depersonalisation and reduced personal accomplishment.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated this situation,” said Ms Credland, highlighting a range of factors that had contributed to increasing “the intense emotional stress of CCNs”.
“It is absolutely imperative that we identify psychological distress early, avoid harm where possible and support staff wellbeing as a key priority”
These included increased patient-to-nurse ratios, the need to support and supervise non-critical care trained staff, long shifts in personal protective equipment, patient distress, rising death rates, and personal or family infection.
“It is absolutely imperative that we identify psychological distress early, avoid harm where possible and support staff wellbeing as a key priority,” she said.
She added: “We are delighted to be part of the Covid-19: Are You OK? campaign raising awareness of this significant issue facing the profession.”
A Nursing Times survey of 3,500 nurses undertaken for the campaign’s launch found that 33% of respondents rated their overall mental health and wellbeing as “bad” or “very bad” and 50% described themselves as “a lot” more anxious or stressed since the pandemic.
The mental health of clinicians during the pandemic has also been the subject of reports and surveys involving the King’s Fund, the Laura Hyde Foundation, the British Medical Association and others.