“We are hugely concerned about the welfare of doctors and healthcare workers with long COVID”. These are the first words of a comprehensive survey of UK doctors with post-acute COVID health complications. It reveals that these doctors experience symptoms such as:
- muscular pain,
- nerve damage,
- joint pain,
- respiratory problems.
Around 60% of doctors said that post-acute COVID ill health has affected their ability to carry out day-to-day activities on a regular basis. 18% reported that they were now unable to work due to their post-acute COVID ill-health, and only 31% said they were working full-time, compared with more than half before the onset of their illness.
The report demands financial support for doctors and healthcare staff with post-acute COVID, post-acute COVID to be recognized as an occupational disease in healthcare workers, with a definition that covers all of the debilitating disease’s symptoms and for improved access to physical and mental health services to aid comprehensive assessment, appropriate investigations and treatment. The report also calls for greater workplace protection for healthcare staff risking their lives for others and better support for post-acute COVID sufferers to return to work safely if they can, including a flexible approach to the use of workplace adjustments.
In November 2021, an online survey investigating the emotional states of depression, anxiety, stress, compassion satisfaction, and compassion fatigue was administered to 78 Italian healthcare workers (HCWs). Between 5 and 20% of the cohort showed the effects of the adverse psychological impact of the pandemic and more than half of them experienced medium levels of compassion fatigue as well as a medium level of compassion satisfaction. The results also show that those with fewer years of clinical practice might be at greater risk of burnout, anxiety, and stress symptoms and might develop a lower level of compassion satisfaction. Moreover, the factors that potentially contribute to poor mental health, compassion fatigue, and compassion satisfaction seem to differ between residents and specialist physicians.
A cross-sectional study was conducted from September 2021 to April 2022 and targeted all physicians working at King Fahd Hospital of the University, Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia. Patient Health Questionnaire-9 and General Anxiety Disorder-7 were used to elicit self-reported data regarding depression and anxiety, respectively. In addition, sociodemographic and job-related data were collected. A total of 438 physicians responded, of which 200 (45.7%) reported symptoms of depression and 190 (43.4%) of anxiety. Being aged 25-30 years, female, resident, and reporting a reduction in work quality were factors significantly associated with both anxiety and depression. Female gender (AOR = 3.570; 95% CI = 2.283-5.582; P < 0.001), working an average 9-11 hours/day (AOR = 2.130; 95% CI = 1.009-4.495; P < 0.047), and self-perceived reduction in work quality (AOR = 3.139; 95% CI = 2.047-4.813; P < 0.001) were significant independent predictors of anxiety. Female gender (AOR = 2.929; 95% CI = 1.845-4.649; P < 0.001) and self-perceived reduction in work quality (AOR = 3.141; 95% CI = 2.053-4.804; P < 0.001) were significant independent predictors of depression.
An observational, multicenter cross-sectional study was conducted at eight tertiary care centers in India. The consenting participants were HCWs between 12 and 52 weeks post-discharge after COVID-19 infection. The mean age of the 679 eligible participants was 31.49 ± 9.54 years. The overall prevalence of COVID sequelae was 30.34%, with fatigue (11.5%) being the most common followed by insomnia (8.5%), difficulty in breathing during activity (6%), and pain in joints (5%). The odds of having any sequelae were significantly higher among participants who had moderate to severe COVID-19 (OR 6.51; 95% CI 3.46-12.23) and lower among males (OR 0.55; 95% CI 0.39-0.76). Besides these, other predictors for having sequelae were age (≥45 years), presence of any comorbidity (especially hypertension and asthma), category of HCW (non-doctors vs doctors), and hospitalization due to COVID-19.
Such data are scary. Not only will we have a tsunami of long-Covid patients from the general public, and not only do we currently lack effective causal treatments for the condition, but also is the number of HCWs who are supposed to deal with all this drastically reduced.
Most if not all countries are going to be affected by these issues. But the UK public might suffer the most, I fear. The reasons are obvious if you read a previous post of mine: in the UK, we have significantly fewer doctors, nurses, hospital beds, and funding (as well as politicians who care and would be able to do something about the problem) than in other comparable countries. To me, this looks like the emergence of a perfect storm.