Remote and technology-mediated working during the COVID-19 pandemic: A qualitative exploration of the experiences of nurses working in general practice (the GenCo Study)

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To explore how nurses working in general practice experienced remote and technology-mediated working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Exploratory qualitative study with nursing team members working in general practices in England and national nurse leaders.

Data were collected between April and August 2022. Forty participants took part in either semi-structured interviews or focus groups. Data were analysed using Framework Analysis informed by the PERCS (Planning and Evaluating Remote Consultation Services) Framework. University of York ethics approval [HSRGC/2021/458/I] and Health Research Authority approval were obtained [IRAS:30353. Protocol number: R23982. Ref 21/HRA/5132. CPMS: 51834]. The study was funded by The General Nursing Council for England and Wales Trust.

Participants continued to deliver a significant proportion of patient care in-person. However, remote and technology-mediated care could meet patients' needs and broaden access in some circumstances. When remote and technology-mediated working were used this was often part of a blended model which was expected to continue. This could support some workforce issues, but also increase workload. Participants did not always have access to remote technology and were not involved in decision-making about what was used and how this was implemented. They rarely used video consultations, which were not seen to add value in comparison to telephone consultations. Some participants expressed concern that care had become more transactional than therapeutic and there were potential safety risks.

The study explored how nurses working in general practice during the COVID-19 pandemic engaged with remote and technology-mediated working. It identifies specific issues of access to technology, workload, hybrid working, disruption to therapeutic relationships, safety risks and lack of involvement in decision-making. Changes were implemented quickly with little strategic input from nurses. There is now an opportunity to reflect and build on what has been learned in relation to remote and technology-mediated working to ensure the future development of safe and effective nursing care in general practice.

The paper contributes to understanding of remote and technology-mediated working by nurses working in general practice during the COVID-19 pandemic and indicates to employers and policy makers how this can be supported moving forward.

Reporting method
Standards for Reporting Qualitative Research (O'Brien et al., 2014).

Patient or public contribution
This was a workforce study so there was no patient or public contribution.

Implications for the profession and patient care
The paper highlights specific issues which have implications for the development of remote, technology-mediated and blended working for nurses in general practice, care quality and patient safety. These require full attention to ensure the future development of safe and effective nursing care in general practice moving forward.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Early online date1 Nov 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2023 The Authors

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