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OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to examine the well-being experiences of consultants working in paediatric critical care (PCC) settings in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic. DESIGN: Qualitative design using individual interviews and thematic analysis. SETTING: PCC. PARTICIPANTS: Eleven medical consultants working in PCC in a range of PCC settings/transport teams in the UK from nine units participated. Participants ranged in years of experience as a consultant from four to 23 years. METHODS: A set of open semistructured questions were used to elicit information about participants' experiences of workplace well-being. Interviews were audiorecorded and transcribed. FINDINGS: Thematic analysis identified six themes and data saturation was reached. These were as follows: (1) positive and negative impact of working during COVID-19, (2) job satisfaction and public scrutiny in the unique environment of PCC, (3) supporting the workforce through modified shift work, (4) perceptions of support and recognition offered from the hospital management, (5) successful coping strategies are personal and adaptive, and (6) importance of civility and good teamwork CONCLUSION: Findings show that consultants' well-being is challenged in a number of ways and that the solutions to the problem of burn-out are multifaceted. Action is required from individual consultants, clinical teams, hospital management and national regulatory bodies. Our work corroborates the recent General Medical Council report highlighting doctors' core needs for well-being: autonomy, belonging, competence. Burn-out is a long-term problem, requiring sustainable solutions. Future research needs to develop and evaluate the effectiveness of evidence-based interventions to improve consultants' well-being. Trials of effectiveness need to present evidence that will persuade hospital management to invest in their consultants' well-being within the economic context of reduced budgets and limited PCC workforce.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Open

Publication Date





COVID-19, PAEDIATRICS, Paediatric intensive & critical care, QUALITATIVE RESEARCH, COVID-19, Child, Consultants, Critical Care, Humans, Pandemics, Qualitative Research, United Kingdom