REACH-OUT: Caring for the healthcare workforce post-COVID-19

Qualification: PhD

Department: Respiratory Sciences

Application deadline: 3rd October 2021

Start date: 1 November 2021, if possible



There are additional supervisors external to the University of Leicester who will be co-supervising this project, Professor Katherine Woolf (University College London) and Dr Laura Nellums (University of Nottingham). 

Project description

Healthcare workers (HCWs), particularly those from ethnic minorities, are at increased risk of COVID-19 infection and adverse outcomes. The ongoing mental, physical and occupational impacts of this on HCWs and on the health service and patient care are as yet unknown. A proportion of COVID-19 survivors experience prolonged symptoms (long-COVID), a potentially debilitating phenomenon which may be unrelated to the severity of the acute infection. The estimated burden of long-COVID and poor mental, physical and occupational outcomes in HCWs is likely to be large, and to significantly impact on the delivery of safe and high-quality care.

The prevalence of long-COVID in HCWs and how this differs by age, sex, ethnicity and occupation are unknown. Given the high-risk of COVID-19 infection in HCWs, and in ethnic minority groups, there is an urgent need for research in this population to estimate the prevalence of long-COVID, characterise the syndrome(s), and understand the impacts of acute and long-COVID illness on the mental and physical health, work, and communities of ethnic minority healthcare workers. 

This project will use a mixed methods approach to understand the lasting impact of COVID-19 on the diverse healthcare workforce. The specific aims are to: 

  • Carry out a systematic review and meta-analysis to investigate the relationship between ethnicity and long-COVID.
  • Use longitudinal survey data linked to health records to determine the short- and medium-term impact of acute and post-acute/long-COVID illness on the mental and physical health, work, and home lives of ethnic minority HCWs.
  • Identify factors that moderate and mediate physical health, mental health and work/home outcomes over time in individuals from diverse ethnic groups.
  • Carry out qualitative research with HCWs (semi-structured interviews and focus groups) from diverse ethnic backgrounds who have had COVID-19 to investigate their experiences of COVID-19 illness, including persistent symptoms/long-COVID, the impact on their mental and physical health, work, provision of care, and their home lives, support and coping mechanisms at work and home, and their perceptions of what could have been improved.
  • Work with professional and stakeholder groups to identify the implications of the research for the wider community, and translate the findings into policy recommendations for minimising negative impacts and strengthening recovery from COVID-19 among healthcare workers, their communities, and the health service.

The project will run from October 2021 for 36 months. Expected outputs are rapid policy-focussed reports, publications in peer-reviewed journals and newsletters and reports to stakeholders and community groups. The successful candidate will be expected to engage with healthcare workers, NHS partners, healthcare worker unions and other key policy stakeholders will build on the existing UK-REACH professional and stakeholder engagement groups and therefore excellent communication skills are a pre-requisite.

This project is linked to a larger government funded Urgent Public Health study, UK-REACH; as such the candidate will benefit from the extensive research expertise already embedded within this team. 


Woolf K, Melbourne C, Bryant L, UK-REACH Collaborative Group et al. The United Kingdom Research study into Ethnicity And COVID-19 outcomes in Healthcare workers (UK-REACH): Protocol for a prospective longitudinal cohort study of healthcare and ancillary workers in UK healthcare settings. BMJ Open (in press) doi:

Gogoi M, Reed-Berendt R, Al-Oraibi A UK-REACH Collaborative Group, et al

Ethnicity and COVID-19 outcomes among healthcare workers in the UK: UK-REACH ethico-legal research, qualitative research on healthcare workers’ experiences and stakeholder engagement protocol BMJ Open 2021;11:e049611. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-049611

Pareek M, Bangash MN, Pareek N, et al. Ethnicity and COVID-19: an urgent public health research priority. Lancet. 2020;395(10234):1421-1422. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30922-3

Davis HE, Assaf GS, McCorkell L et al. Characterizing long COVID in an international cohort: 7 months of symptoms and their impact.  EClinicalMedicine 2021 38:101019,



The 3 year Studentship will provide tuition fees, a stipend of £15,609 per annum and a training allowance of £5,500. 

Applicants from candidates from outside of the UK are welcome to apply and a full international tuition fee waiver is available for outstanding candidates.

International candidates have to be resident in the UK whilst doing the research. 

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Applicants are required to hold/or be expected to obtain a UK Bachelor degree 2:1 or better in the health sciences or a relevant social science (or a recognised international equivalent).

Previous research experiences is required, and a background in population health sciences, and in particular experience of using mixed-methods quantitative and qualitative research approaches in this field, would be advantageous. 

The University of Leicester English language requirements apply where applicable.

Informal enquiries

Informal enquiries

Project and funding enquiries

Application enquiries

How to apply

How to apply

To submit your application, please use the Apply button below and select January 2022 from the dropdown menu.

With your application, please include:

  • CV
  • Personal statement explaining your interest in the project, your experience and why we should consider you
  • Degree Certificates and Transcripts of study already completed and if possible transcript to date of study currently being undertaken
  • Evidence of English language proficiency if applicable
  • In the reference section please enter the contact details of your two academic referees in the boxes provided or upload letters of reference if already available.
  • In the funding section please specify that you wish to be considered for the following studentship: RS Pareek Studentship

In the research proposal section please provide the name of the Supervisors and Project title (a research proposal is not required).

Note - We adjust the actual start date as agreed at the point of offer.



UK / EU and international applicants are welcome to apply.