locum nurses nursing agency

The impact of COVID-19 on locum nurses

Towards the end of 2020, we sent out a survey to find out more from the locum nurses who work with us about how their working lives have changed as a result of the pandemic. It is important for us to understand the challenges of agency nursing. 


The agency nursing survey, completed in December 2020, gave us a deeper insight into the experiences of locum nurses over the past year. We have learnt about the concerns, challenges and settings of work of 60 locum nurses doing agency nursing during COVID-19. This valuable information will help us to continue to meet your needs during this crisis. 


Concerns and challenges  

The pandemic has changed the ways in which locum nurses work. Agency nursing has come with its own challenges during COVID-19. When asked their biggest concern, 41.7% said that there was less work opportunity. Luckily, with the COVID-19 vaccination programme underway, locums are in demand. We’re proud to be supporting the effort so contact us if you would like to get involved.  


40% also said that the lack of sick pay and benefits was a concern. COVID-19 has exposed the financial needs of all self-employed people, healthcare industry included. As a result, AppLocum is partnering with a healthcare-focused financial wellbeing organisation to help locums with income protection if these issues do arise. You can read more about this partnership here.  


In addition, 29% of those surveyed had experienced stress and burnout, showing the impact of COVID-19 on mental healthSome also felt that they were not fully equipped to fight the pandemic, with 20.5% facing issues with PPE and 16% felt that they’d had inadequate COVID-19 training. It is a difficult time for all healthcare staff and these results show that locum nurses must be included in the conversation.  


Where were the placements?  

COVID-19 forced the healthcare industry to reconfigure their priorities. What does agency nursing look like during COVID-19? For the locum nurses surveyed, triage was the most in-demand with 48% working in this service. However, the second most common answer was ‘other’ as almost 30% continued to work in walk-in centres and GP surgeries. Only 7% worked in COVID-19 clinics and 5% in hospitals, but AppLocum looks forward to expanding further into secondary care as well as contributing to the COVID-19 vaccination programme.  


Experiences on the frontline 

Locum nurses have had varied experiences as they work through the pandemic. Only 30% were offered mental health support yet most of the respondents spoke about their experiences in terms of their wellbeing and safety.  


One ANP commented that it was “very stressful and scary, especially if working in a new environment as locums do on a regular basis.” It is therefore essential for healthcare settings to consider the particular needs of their locum staff.  


There were a mixture of experiences with PPE. For some, their “experience has often been frightening [due to] lack of or inadequate PPE” whilst for others it was “quite stressful but good PPE always available and support during all shifts.” We were glad that many “did not feel that safety [was] compromised.” PPE continues to be an issue for all healthcare staff. Their safety must be a priority even as many of them receive the COVID-19 vaccination. 


It was positive to see those celebrating the amount of support and solidarity between healthcare staff during these overwhelming and strange times. Responses included that there was a “great team spirit” and “local staff on shifts [were] supportive”. Kindness and support can make a real difference to those around you. 



Finally, we were given insight into what motivated locum nurses throughout the pandemic. Patients were ultimately the priority as 62% said duty of care. However, financial concerns were also clearly present with around 18% writing in that they were most motivated to work by financial necessity. 13.5% responded with family and friends, showing the importance of having a strong support network. 0% were motivated by the government. 


Keep in touch 

The AppLocum team would like to thank all the locum nurses who took part in our survey so that we can make agency nursing work best for you. We are also grateful for the lovely feedback we received such as:


“I have found them always to be professional and helpful, they do a good job in these difficult times. I feel that they look after us as individuals.” 


“Amazing helpful staff. They always do their best to get you suitably placed. Very supportive at all times and always readily available to speak to.”    


As we readjust to the third lockdown and an upsurge in COVID-19 cases, get in touch if you need advice and support. 


If you’re looking for work, we still need nurses for regular locum work and COVID-19 vaccinations. See our vacancies here.  

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