Multi-professional team-working - the experience and lessons from COVID-19

  • 26 Oct 2021
  • RCOphth

A new report published today reviews the role of multi-professional teams during the pandemic and considers how the members of different occupational groups came together to deliver care differently.

Multi-professional team-working – the experience and lessons from COVID-19 published by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AOMRC) focuses on lessons learned about the enablers for and barriers to effective multi-professional team-working.

Five themes and 10 principles to help ‘reset’ multi-professional team working

The report draws on interviews with professionals across different specialties, healthcare settings and regions. It recommends five themes that should inform future work to ‘reset’ team-working after the pandemic, to fully realise the benefits of a multi-professional workforce for patient care. It brings together individual case studies, broader lessons learned, and sets out ten key principles for improving multi-professional team working. It signposts resources and further reading. The COVID-19 response continues to offer a template for how multi-professional teams can, if properly supported, deliver effective patient care in extraordinary circumstances.

Case study: COVID-19 Urgent Eye Service (CUES) Greater Manchester

Included in the AOMRC report is a case study provided by Bill Newman, Chair of the RCOphth Professional Standards Committee, and Consultant Paediatric Ophthalmologist & Medical Director, Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, and Robert Harper, Optometrist Consultant, Manchester Royal Eye Hospital.

Manchester Royal Eye Hospital (MREH) and a network of optometrists in Manchester and Trafford developed the COVID-19 Urgent Eye Service (CUES), which helps patients access more local urgent eye care. Community-based optometrists assess and treat patients via telephone, virtual and face-to-face appointments, and can seek opinions from or refer patients to the hospital where necessary. Prior to the pandemic, ophthalmologists at MREH were already considering new pathways and technologies to reduce footfall into the hospital and to make better use of the skills of optometrists. COVID-19 accelerated these efforts, increasing the impetus to treat patients away from the hospital where possible, and the CUES model was recommended nationally in April 2020.Full details are in the report.

Unprecedented upheaval for team working during the pandemic

The report describes how the COVID-19 pandemic saw an unprecedented upheaval in how teams across a range of clinical settings interact with each other and with their patients. Healthcare professionals were thrust into new clinical environments, required to work within novel and often expanded roles, and to quickly incorporate new technologies and pathways into their clinical practice. These professional changes occurred against the backdrop of significant personal and psychological strains created by the global pandemic. It states that COVID-19 has provided a unique lens through which to examine and scrutinise the dynamics of the multi-professional team and shows how many teams were able to transform and adapt to achieve a common goal.

The report cautions that these benefits must be balanced against the detrimental impacts of the pandemic including the loss of training opportunities and the risk of burnout and mental ill-health. Improved ways of working have also been difficult to sustain amid the continued pressures of ongoing COVID-19 cases and service recovery.

Read the report in full here

Also published today is a new document from the National Eye Care Recovery and Transformation Programme Team which sets out the current courses and qualifications for registered eye health care professionals and how they relate to service capabilities that provide safe patient care. Find this report here

Find out more about the work of the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges: