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Moral injury in front line workers

Moral injury is not a new phenomenon. It occurs when a persons values are violated by people in authority. Many people associate it with the experiences of ex military men and women. It is not the same as PTSD although both symptoms emerge later after returning home. The main presentation of moral injury is guilt, shame and a loss of meaning.

O'Connor suggests that NHS staff may experience moral injury. Doctors, nurses and healthcare staff train in their jobs because they care and want to be of service, however they may not have expected to be on the front line of a 'war'. This applies similarly to teachers and other front line staff who went into their roles wanting to make a difference, but not necessarily at the expense of their own and their families health and well-being.

More support must be given to people struggling with the moral and ethical implications of being asked to do something exceptional in abnormal times and the implications of how they will feel if they do, or if they assert their freedom to choose not to.


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