Journal of Universal Surgery

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The Importance of Followership in a Crisis- Lessons Learnt From a Survey of Junior Doctors Perception of Leadership during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Adeel Abbas Dhahri*, Muhammad Rafaih Iqbal*, Nourelhuda Darwish and Vardhini Vijay*

Background: Clinical leadership is an intense skill leading to safer patient outcomes, while followership is flip side of good leadership. Coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has tested both leadership and followership, and as followers’ expectations multiplied, we conducted this single centre survey to assess junior doctors’ perception of leadership.

Materials and Methods: We performed an online cross-sectional survey, among the non-consultant group of doctors in all specialties at The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust United Kingdom (UK), over two weeks (20 April 2020 – 03 May 2020).

Results: 55 doctors responded to the survey. 32 (58.2%) of the participants had their rota changed during COVID-19 pandemic and 32 (58.2%) felt that changes to their working patterns affected their morale. 22 (40%) participants of the survey believed that they did not have adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE). 33 (60%) felt stressed during the pandemic. 16 (29.1%) had to take time off due to illness, of which 9 (52.9%) felt well supported by their colleagues and seniors. 23 (41.8%) of doctors were not satisfied by their departmental leadership, and 51 (92.7%) felt that their leaders were definitely or probably working beyond their competence.

Conclusion: Crisis management during the COVID-19 pandemic was associated with a degree of uncertainty and involved complex and rapid changes in workforce management and clinical protocols. Whilst trust and co-operation between clinical leaders and team members was crucial in maintaining good patient outcomes, the results of our survey highlight the fact that issues faced by the followers in times of crisis do impact their perception of leadership.