The full impact of working in the COVID-19 pandemic surge on NHS staff is yet to be understood. Simulations were run to explore the staff experience following the second COVID surge. From these, it was clear that the staff had powerful stories to tell. A series of further simulation sessions were then delivered, designed to allow staff to explore their experiences and assist with organizational learning within the trust debrief strategy.
Firstly, to use simulation to recreate working with uncertainty and unfamiliar staff as a platform within the debrief to explore their experiences of working during the pandemic surges. Secondly, to employ a human factors framework, SEIPS model 
, within a simulation debrief to build a system picture of work-as-done 
by staff throughout the organization. This was then used to feed back to leadership to influence care processes and staff and patient well-being for potential future surges.
Simulation sessions, open to all staff, were advertised throughout the organization. In total, 8 sessions were delivered for 38 staff. Multi-disciplinary attendance was encouraged, and a wide range of staff groups participated. During the session, staff were given a brief presentation on human factors, a simulation pre-brief and a pre- and post-simulation questionnaire. A simple patient deterioration scenario unrelated to COVID-19 was used to maintain psychological safety. A system-focussed debrief using the PEARLS model took place after the scenario. Insights shared by candidates were captured by a facilitator and anonymously grouped into the six SEIPS themes.
Pre- and post-questionnaires show a general theme of improved confidence post-simulation. Findings were reviewed and the impact on care processes and staff, patient and organizational outcomes were summarized. Information captured within the SEIPS framework showed recurring themes that were condensed into four main categories: psychological trauma and burnout, communication, re-deployment and training, and infection control and PPE.
Implications for practice:
It was clear from facilitating sessions that staff were concerned about patient experience but were also suffering their own trauma from working through the surge. Feedback from participants was positive, emphasizing their sense of validation in sharing their experiences and of feeling part of the hospital community. Staff also had experiences to share about what had helped them and where things could be improved. These insights were synthesized into practical recommendations for managing future pandemic surges that were fed back to the wider organization.