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Fostering teamwork for resilient staff and safe care: driving post-pandemic recovery and renewal in intensive care units

Teamwork is crucial for successful healthcare delivery, improving staff wellbeing, retention, patient safety and outcomes. However, teamwork remains problematic in the NHS, with negative consequences exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic's strain on teams especially in intensive care units (ICUs). This created needs for more flexible, cross-boundary teamwork with redeployed staff and new roles - but a lack of clarity on adaptation led to stress, turnover risks and safety issues.

FEARLESS aims to examine the changing nature of post-pandemic ICU teamwork, refine current frameworks for this new context, co-develop a toolkit with staff to strengthen ICU teamwork capacity, and disseminate findings to prepare for a future clinical trial. Through evidence syntheses, fieldwork across 5 ICUs, staff workshops, and toolkit development, we will gain vital insights to inform subsequent research while delivering an implementable solution.

With stronger teamwork linked to 10-55% improved outcomes, the potential benefits are immense for the NHS. Even a modest 10% improvement could prevent 6,000 patient safety incidents and 400 deaths annually based on past data. This project paves the way for more effective ICU teamwork - boosting staff wellbeing, patient safety and organisational resilience.


This research aims to make a significant contribution to addressing pressing research, policy, and practice concerns by gaining original insight to current needs and challenges of teamwork in ICU in the context of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the transition to endemic conditions.

Project status: Starting
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Principal Investigator



Funding Body: National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)

Amount: £783,553

Period: July 2023 - April 2027