Health and social care professionals often work with patients and service users with complicated needs and circumstances, and sometimes need to exercise autonomy and use their professional judgement in difficult situations.
Our Registrants are, therefore, typically resilient and able to cope in high pressure environments, learning and adapting as they do so.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic has increased demands on health and care professionals. Registrants are dealing with staff shortages, taking on additional responsibilities and incorporating Covid-secure measures into their procedures.
Outside of the workplace, they, like everyone across the country and indeed around the world, have had to deal with the increased strain of living and working during a pandemic.
Despite all these additional pressures, health and care professionals have adapted extraordinarily well – with many taking the opportunity to expand their scope of practice.
We’ve been speaking to Registrants throughout the pandemic and highlighting their Covid-19 experiences in the Your Stories section of our website.
We recently told the story of one Registrant, Beth Abbiss who is a speech and language therapist. Beth used her skills and experience to become an oxygen runner at North Tees hospital.
Another registrant, Occupational Therapist Gillian Reeley, found herself helping to train redeployed colleagues from mental health and community settings, alongside her day to day role at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
It is stories like Beth’s and Gillian’s, which prompted us to respond to Parliament’s Health and Social Care Committee consultation on workforce burnout and resilience in the NHS and social care.
We have heard many first-hand accounts of the impact the coronavirus has had on mental and physical health, with communication between Registrants often reduced, increased workloads and a reduction in direct supervision.
As a regulator, we have provided support for our Registrants through the development of our Covid-19 hub, which includes our wellbeing resources. These are in place to help Registrants who are feeling the mental and physical impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. But there is still more to be done.
Delivering real cultural change across all levels of management within the NHS; reducing inappropriate expectations of staff and ensuring they feel genuinely valued and listened to will take significant investment, resources and sustained focus. This is our key recommendation to the Health and Social Care Committee.
The pandemic has shown the importance and value of innovation, pragmatism and decisiveness. In professional regulation, a new legislative framework is urgently needed if we are to move beyond pre-pandemic ways of working.
As we have said in various communications with politicians over the last few months, regulation needs to be data-driven, targeted, responsive and good value. This type of regulation will enable us to help reduce the burden on health and care professionals and ensure a workforce able to cope with increasing demands.