The sixth survey of RCP fellows and members shows that most doctors are at work, generally feel prepared for the second wave and can access the tests they need. But problems do remain.
As the second wave of COVID-19 begins, the RCP conducted its sixth survey tracking the impact of the pandemic on the workforce. In this survey we asked our members about risk assessment, time off work, testing, flu vaccine, and preparedness for the second wave of COVID-19.
Commenting on the results of the survey, RCP president Professor Andrew Goddard said:
“These results suggest the NHS is geared up for the second wave. Most of our members and their organisations expect it and are prepared for it.
“Testing does remain a problem. We must ensure that rapid testing and results are available for health and social care staff or we will be tackling winter and the second wave with one hand tied behind our backs.
“The biggest issue is testing for household members. While only a small number of doctors are off work, 40% of them are self-isolating while waiting for a test for someone they live with.
“That could already mean hundreds of doctors unavailable to provide care. And as the infection rate rises, the need for tests will rise, and a large proportion of the workforce could be out of action simply for want of a test.
“Finally, we urge all clinicians to protect themselves, their families and their patients by having their flu jab sooner rather than later. We all need to be as well as possible so we can support each other through a difficult winter.”
- Only 80% of respondents who reported having a PCR test for COVID-19 in the past two weeks were able to access the test in the first 24 hours, compared to 88% in July. But results appear to be being returned sooner than in July.
- 53% of respondents said COVID-19 admissions had increased in their hospital over the past two weeks. 24% said the numbers had not changed.
- Only 6.5% of respondents were currently taking time off from their usual work schedule. But 40% of them were self-isolating because someone in their household had symptoms and was waiting for a test.
- 65% have had a formal risk assessment, up from 56% in our last survey.
- 47% have been involved in a conversation in their organisation about preparing for a second wave, up from 36% in July.
- 90% felt their organisation was at least somewhat prepared for a second wave of COVID-19. 88% felt at least somewhat personally prepared.
- 56% felt their organisation would have the necessary PPE, but 35% were unsure.
- Only 8.5% of respondents reported having had the flu vaccine, but 86% said they planned to.
- At least 20% of doctors have had COVID-19. Antibodies were not detectable in 12% of cases.
Only 6.5% of respondents were currently taking time off from their usual work schedule. 40% of them were self-isolating because someone in their household showed COVID-19 symptoms and was awaiting a test.
65% of respondents have had a formal risk assessment, compared to 56% in July. 11% reported using the risk reduction framework hosted on the Faculty of Occupational Medicine website, while 5% have had informal risk assessments.
Of the 26% who hadn’t been assessed at all, only 16% were from a black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) background, although they made up 26% of all respondents. This suggest messages about higher risk have been heard and responded to.
Half of respondents reported having a PCR test for COVID-19 at some point. The result was negative in 83% of cases.
15% had been tested in the past two weeks, up from 13% in July. Of them, only 80% of them were able to access the test in the first 24 hours, compared to 88% in July.
26% of those tested in the past two weeks received their results within 24 hours, similar to July. 25% waited up to two days, down from 38% in July; 17% up to three days, compared to 21% in July; and 12% more than three days, compared to 13.5% in July.
21% hadn’t yet received their results. This could be because they had been tested just prior to responding to the survey.
Of those who needed a test for their patients (80%), 92.5% had been able to access it in the first 24 hours. 3% had been unable to access the test despite trying.
Of those who needed a test for members of their household (40%), 72% had been able to access the it in the first 24 hours. 9% had been unable to access the test despite trying.
Three quarters of respondents had been able to access an antibody test for COVID-19. 5% had wanted one but been unable to access it. The result was negative in 79% of cases.
Of those who had received a positive PCR test result, 12% received a negative antibody test result.
Only 8.5% of respondents reported having had the flu vaccine, but 86% said they planned to. Only 4% said they didn’t plan to.
Preparedness for a second wave
Just under half (47%) of respondents had been involved in a conversation in their organisation about preparing for a second wave, compared to 36% in July. 95% said their organisation was preparing on the basis that a second wave was likely (23%) or extremely likely (72%).
10% said their organisation was not at all prepared for a second wave. The majority (50%) felt it was somewhat prepared.
Only 12% of respondents did not feel personally prepared for a second wave. The majority (59%) felt somewhat prepared.
In terms of PPE, 56% felt their organisation would have the necessary PPE if the number of people requiring hospitalisation begins to rise again. But 35% were unsure, and 9% said it would not have the necessary PPE.
Half (49.5%) of respondents had either had some time off to recuperate or arranged to have some off. A further 3% said they were going to arrange it.
Almost a fifth (19%) said they didn’t feel they needed any time off, and 23.5% simply said they hadn’t had any time off. 3% said they hadn’t had time off and weren’t confident their employer would allow them some time.
- 898 responses
- 93% worked in the NHS
- 90.5% worked in a hospital
- 20% were in London and 74% the rest of England
- 77.5% were consultants, 12.5% were in training, 5% were physician associates and 4% SAS doctors
- 13% worked in geriatric medicine, 9.5% in respiratory medicine and 7.5% acute internal medicine and 7% palliative medicine
- 57.% were women and 41% men
- 54.5% were aged between 41 and 55
- 26.5% were from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background
- 11% were disabled