Australian nurses’ satisfaction and experiences of redeployment during COVID-19: a service evaluation

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Ginger Chu
Kristy Connelly
Alex Mexon
Ben Britton
Julie Tait
Victoria Pitt
Kerry J Inder


COVID-19, deployment, nursing, pandemic, redeployment


Objective: To evaluate nurses’ satisfaction and experiences of redeployment during COVID-19.

Background: Redeployment to an unfamiliar environment can be challenging; however, it can also present an opportunity for staff to learn new skills. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to redeploy health professionals, particularly nurses, increased dramatically. Evaluating nurses’ satisfaction and experiences related to redeployment during the pandemic is essential for future surge planning.

Methods: A cross-sectional online survey consisting of single-choice and open-ended questions was conducted on a purposive sample of nurses (n=106) working in an acute hospital in New South Wales, Australia, from July to August 2020. Nurses who were redeployed to wards different from their regular workplaces were invited to participate in the survey. Areas of redeployment include various medical and surgical wards, intensive care units and the emergency department. Nurses’ satisfaction was obtained through the survey question structured as a Likert scale ranging from very satisfied to very dissatisfied. Nurse experiences were captured through a single-choice question (positive or negative experience) and open-ended questions. The single-choice questions were analysed by summarising participant responses, and open-ended questions were analysed using an iterative thematic analysis approach.

Results: A high proportion of nurses were either neutral (48.4%, n=45) or dissatisfied (44.1%, n=41) with redeployment, with only 7.5% (n=7) of nurses being satisfied. There was a mix of positive (43%, n=40) and negative (57%, n=53) redeployment experiences. Three main themes influence nurses’ redeployment experience: “staff friendly and welcoming”, “patient allocation”, and “support”.

Conclusion: Redeployment of healthcare workers during a pandemic is inevitable. This study highlighted that despite close to half of the redeployed nurses reporting a positive redeployment experience, only a few were satisfied with redeployment. This indicated that more work is required to support nurses during redeployment to increase satisfaction. Future workforce redeployment needs to consider healthcare workers’ needs and must strive to improve satisfaction to build a sustainable and resilient health system.

Implications for research, policy, and practice: This study highlighted that although redeployment is challenging, staff can have a positive redeployment experience when supported. Elements that are associated with positive redeployment experience were explored in this study, which can inform policy and prepare nurses for future surge demand.

What is already known about the topic?

  • Redeployment of nurses in the acute care sector during the COVID-19 pandemic is common.

  • Both the COVID-19 pandemic and redeployment can be challenging and stressful experiences for nurses.

  • There is a paucity of research examining the satisfaction and experiences of nurses working in the acute care sector during COVID-19 in Australia.

What this paper adds:

  • This study provides evidence that many nurses working in the acute sector during COVID-19 in Australia had positive redeployment experiences. Despite this, very few were satisfied with redeployment.

  • This study has identified essential factors to a positive redeployment experience.

  • This study also highlighted the need to improve

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