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"Redeployed & Overwhelmed: The Impact of Nurse Redeployment During the Pandemic"

Updated: Dec 8, 2023






Nurse Redeployment how did it affect you? How did nurses feel being redeployed during the pandemic?


The global healthcare system faced unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the effects on healthcare professionals were significant. One of the most challenging things nurses had to deal with was being transferred to new departments with little to no warning or preparation.


Nurses were already working long shifts under intense pressure when they were thrust into new jobs with more responsibilities for which they received little to no training or emotional support. Many medical professionals felt trapped by this unexpected shift and overwhelmed by their dread and fear.


The pandemic brought with it a set of challenges that no one could have predicted. Although being redeployed within nursing is not a new concept, pre-pandemic, it would have only been a short space of time. Never before have so many nurses been asked to change departments, learn new skills and take on the pressures of working with many ill patients.


Reasons nurses might have been redeployed:


the increase in demand for some services

● to support areas of staff shortages

● to support the backlog of work following the pandemic

● to support the COVID-19 vaccine and winter vaccine programs



Checklist for redeployment


A checklist was issued to help prepare nurses when being redeployed. With the idea that this would help make them feel more comfortable with the move and answer questions about pay and competency.


The checklist included information on the following:

  1. Assessing your personal circumstances and risk

  2. Your contract and pay conditions

  3. PPE requirements

  4. Security systems and IT

  5. Your working time and overtime

  6. Your role and responsibilities

  7. Career development and returning to your role

Even with this checklist, nurses felt ill-prepared to take on the challenges facing them, and many of the promises in the checklist were not followed through due to time and lack of staffing.


Nurses felt they had to continue to help their patients and do the job they were trained to do. Many felt trapped in a nightmare that seemingly had no end.


Nurses who previously worked in departments with low numbers of deaths suddenly found themselves treating critically ill Covid patients with little-to-no training or emotional support.



Redeployment and Its Effects on Nurses


Pre-pandemic nurses could temporarily be redeployed to other departments; this was generally voluntary. It was important that staff were not forced to move. During the pandemic, nurses began to feel like they weren't given a choice; as things became more and more critical within the healthcare system, nurses were sent where the help was most needed.


Many nurses reported feeling unprepared for the difficulties they encountered despite the existence of a checklist designed to assist them be ready for redeployment. As a result, healthcare professionals experienced increased levels of stress and anxiety as they struggled to meet the checklist's expectations in a timely manner and with sufficient personnel.


During the pandemic, many nurses were reassigned to jobs they had never done before, often treating patients who were in critical condition despite having received little in the way of training or mental support. The overall effect of redeployment was significant, leading to elevated levels of stress, sadness, and post-traumatic stress disorder among nurses. More could have been done to aid frontline nurses.


Stress from redeployment also increased absenteeism, burnout, and mental health problems among employees.


How did this make nurses feel?


Many nurses felt backed into a corner, being asked to move to other departments with little notice or training and no real way to refuse to comply.

Studies have shown that this has contributed to increased anxiety, depression, and PTSD amongst nurses. It has been noted post-pandemic that more could have been done to support nurses on the frontline, especially those working in intensive care units. The overall pressures of redeployment have added to the increase of staff sickness, feeling burnt out, mental health issues, and inevitably leaving the profession seen across the healthcare service.


These are just some of the concerns healthcare professionals may have after being reassigned, and it's crucial to recognize the effects of redeployment on their life. There has never been a more difficult moment to be a healthcare provider than during the current COVID-19 outbreak, and it is imperative that we take care of and show our appreciation for these courageous individuals.



A Retrospective on Relocation

  1. Were you redeployed during the pandemic? What was it like to be reassigned during the pandemic?

  2. Were you given much notice? How did that make you feel?

  3. Did you receive any support during your redeployment?

  4. How did you feel when you returned to your old post?

  5. Was it difficult to go back to your old job?



  1. McInerney, J., & Kendall, M. (2021). The impact of redeployment on healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic: A systematic review. Journal of nursing management, 29(3), 504-514.

  2. World Health Organization (WHO). (2021). Protecting health workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. https://www.who.int/campaigns/health-workforce-protection/protecting-health-workers

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2021). Strategies for Protecting Health Care Personnel. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/protecting-health-care-personnel.html

  4. Hines, K. R., & Smith, K. (2021). A review of the effects of redeployment in critical care nursing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Nursing and Healthcare of Chronic Illness, 13(3), 199-209.

  5. Tsiligianni, I., Sergentanis, T. N., & Tseleni-Balafouta, S. (2021). The impact of redeployment on mental health outcomes among health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic: a systematic review. BMJ open, 11(2), e044867.

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