Almost half of intensive care staff working during the coronavirus crisis are likely to be suffering from problem drinking, severe anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), new research suggests.

The study, which included work by Oxford University experts, found poor mental health was common among ICU staff, and was more pronounced in nurses than in doctors or health workers on the ward.

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For the study, led by King’s College London, 709 healthcare workers from nine ICUs in England completed anonymous web-based surveys in June and July.

Some 291 of the staff (41 per cent) were doctors, 344 (49 per cent) were nurses, and 74 (10 per cent) other healthcare staff.

More than half (59 per cent) reported their wellbeing as being good but 45 per cent met the threshold for 'probable clinical significance' for at least one of the following conditions: severe depression (six per cent), PTSD (40 per cent), severe anxiety (11 per cent) or problem drinking (seven per cent).

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One in eight staff also reported having frequent thoughts of being better off dead, or of hurting themselves in the previous two weeks.

Lead author, Professor Neil Greenberg, said: “The severity of symptoms we identified are highly likely to impair some ICU staffs ability to provide high quality care as well as negatively impacting on their quality of life."