Dispatches from the front: don’t put us through another peak

photo Rohin Francis/CC

photo Rohin Francis/CC   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Tories don’t give a damn about non-Covid patients

I’ve spent most of this week in the ‘cold’ emergency department, still wearing mask and apron, X-raying patients with broken bones, serious gastric issues, cancer and so on. We’ve been able to split our A&E department into ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ areas to try to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Triaging during the separation of patients is by no means an exact process, and patients can be moved from cold to hot after further examination. Work is often very different between the two, with hot ‘resus’ needing donning and doffing of full PPE and detailed cleaning.

We are increasingly concerned for the needs of our patients who don’t have Covid-19, even if the government isn’t. Many of our poorly elderly were farmed out to local care homes to allow the hospital to prepare for the expected surge at the beginning of the outbreak. This has proved to be a disaster given the huge number of deaths in care homes.

Cancer patients are having their treatment delayed and are fearful of coming into hospital. We still have elderly falls patients coming in who often face even longer delays on trolleys before finding a bed and surgery, as resources are concentrated on the Covid effort. And distressingly, we’ve seen a considerable increase in suicide attempts and patients with mental health crises.

It’s pretty clear the Tories don’t give a damn about our other patients, and the dilemma hospitals have over restarting urgent ‘elective’ work for those who are suffering in pain and misery at home with many debilitating conditions. But do we have enough PPE to restart this work for those on increasing waiting lists?

My colleagues can see the hypocrisy of the money thrown at this crisis, which is not for us but for the Tories and their system to save face. When we look to rebuild after the crisis is over, many more will be demanding a fully funded, comprehensive health service, that provides care when it’s needed. An NHS for the 99%, not for the greedy profiteers.

An NHS health professional

We may be past the peak – but we don’t want Covid wards full again

It’s two to three weeks since the peak in this hospital. Almost every ward was full of Covid patients. Now there are quite a few wards with some spare beds, and new Covid patients coming in. Less patients dying too.

Some staff are still exhausted, but some others are hoping we are now past the peak and are getting impatient for the lockdown to be relaxed. But many rightly fear this.

Without the testing and contact tracing that some countries have used to get the pandemic under control, we risk going back to another huge increase in infections. No one who has worked on a Covid ward wants to see them full again.

An NHS admin worker

All NHS staff are essential workers – and deserve to be treated like it

Why are they calling them ‘offers to NHS staff’? You need an NHS email to get most of them. They don’t give out email addresses to us. The hospitals would be shut down if we didn’t do our job. We get told we are essential NHS workers, and we are, but we aren’t treated like it.

An NHS domestic

Staff risk becoming super-spreaders while government offers platitudes

A recent ‘sweep’ test, something which ought to be customary by now but which remains extraordinary, was undertaken at my NHS trust. 400 frontline staff were tested. Of them, 21 were confirmed Covid-19 positive.

Forget for a moment the disruption this meant for service provision. Consider instead that asymptomatic clinical staff served as potential super-spreaders while the government offered us platitudes and hollow gestures.

An NHS porter