To develop these outputs, we spoke to 100 nurses working at three different acute NHS Trusts in England, during the COVID-19 pandemic, to understand their redeployment experiences and how this affected their well-being, job performance and intentions to leave. We then carried out workshops with national senior stakeholders from the following organisations: Health Education England; Nursing and Midwifery Council; Royal College of Nursing; Unison; NHS Employers; NHS England and Improvement; NHS Providers; Improvement Academy; Care Opinion (patient perspective); and nursing academics.
We found that redeployment had a huge impact on nurses who were redeployed, those working in teams who supported redeployed nurses and the managers tasked with implementing redeployment. We found that a lack of guidance and support for nurse managers meant that the approach to redeployment was inconsistent both within and across Trusts. The Trust in our study who had an existing, scalable approach to redeployment prior to the pandemic fared better when mass redeployment of nurses was required in response to the pandemic. Overall, redeployment was primarily perceived as a contentious, unpleasant task for all involved in the process, and often led to incivility between staff. This negatively impacted those who were asked to be redeployed, as they often felt undervalued, that they had a lack of autonomy in the process and were unsupported when working in a redeployed role and when they were de-deployed to their home ward. Those implementing redeployment were left with feelings of guilt and moral burden.
There were some instances where redeployment had a positive impact on those involved, which resulted in nurses flourishing in their redeployed role, developing skills and professional relationships, job opportunities and career progression opportunities. Positive experiences of redeployment were primarily underpinned by the management of the process e.g., compassionate leaderships skills from those tasked with implementing redeployment and being integrated into, and supported by, the team nurses were redeployed to. The Recommendations for the management of NHS nurse redeployment and crisis workforce recovery: A guide for acute NHS Trusts and Nurse redeployment: A good practice guide identify opportunities for change at a Trust and individual level to improve redeployment processes and experiences going forward.
These findings will be presented in more detail in academic publications soon. The evidence underpinning each recommendation is also available in the Recommendations for the management of NHS nurse redeployment and crisis workforce recovery: A guide for acute NHS Trusts document.