The role of medical support workers during the Covid-19 pandemic in the National Health Service in the UK: a qualitative service evaluation at the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Wang H., English M., Nagraj S.
We conducted a service evaluation of the Medical Support Worker (MSW) role at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust following the COVID-19 pandemic. The aim was to explore the roles of MSWs, their contributions to the NHS, factors influencing their career choices, and the position's goals, to inform quality improvement in relation to their integration into the Trust. The perspectives of MSWs, their supervisors, and recruiters were analysed through nine semi-structured interviews and two focus group discussions involving 18 participants. Results were categorized into micro, meso, and macro levels of the health system. At the micro level, MSWs were recognised as a diverse group of highly qualified international medical graduates (IMGs) who played a crucial role during the pandemic. At the meso level, participants emphasized the importance of a comprehensive induction by the hospital, to clarify responsibilities and familiarize MSWs with the health system. At the macro level, the role facilitated MSWs’ integration within the NHS, with the aim of practising as doctors. The importance of comprehensive hospital induction, with role clarity for both MSWs and their teams, supportive supervision, and assistance with applying for registration with the General Medical Council, were highlighted as key quality improvement areas.