"Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced" - James Baldwin
Friday, 3 April 2020
Hospital doctor eye-witness
received this report from a friend of mine, Dr Irial Violet, who
works in a hospital in the West Midlands.
haven’t got the energy to write this well, but I want to talk
about: case numbers, lockdown, PPE & the state of the NHS.
Cases are rising exponentially (see graph)… this is what they will
do. Papers release daily infection toll with some surprise. We have
known this is how the pandemic would play out, and the rate at which
cases increase. Why are we surprised? And they’re going to keep on
going up and up whilst people are still allowed out and about to mix
and mingle and spread the virus.
We still need a proper lockdown - lots of us are staying indoors, but
the government still hasn’t provided support to make this possible
for everyone e.g. those on zero hours contracts. “Essential
service” is open to interpretation. Yesterday on my drive to work
the roads were still full. You’ll all have seen pictures of crowded
tube carriages. Classic short-sighted Tory policy: reduce number of
tubes without helping people to stay at home = more crowded tubes.
We still don’t have proper PPE. I’m working in A&E, and about
2/3 of the people coming in now are suspected Covid patients. We are
at huge risk. We only have shitty paper masks that one consultant
explained to me actually do very little. He was making his own
version of the mask by doubling them up and sticking them together
with medical tape. Really? Is that the best we can manage? Soon we
will all start falling ill (many of my colleagues/friends already
have), then we’ll have healthcare workers looking after healthcare
workers at the time when our NHS is under most strain.
Our understaffing issue is nothing new. Matt Hancock couldn’t
conceal his pride in announcing the return of retired healthcare
professionals to the NHS. He smugly told us of the 6,147 nurses
returning to the NHS. But we have 44,000 nursing vacancies across the
UK. We are already missing 12% of our nursing workforce! Yes we need
extra staff and it’s amazing people are returning to work, but
there is a reason that our hospitals are already struggling to deal
with the Covid outbreak and that reason is years of underfunding and
austerity. And years of making it such a stressful and difficult
place to work that we are chronically understaffed. Hancock 'paid
tribute’ to us working in the NHS “in its hour of need”… it
has been in an 'hour of need' for years, mate.
would LOVE to be proven wrong on this, but I think we’re heading
for disaster. Italy has one of the best healthcare systems in Europe,
and double the number of ventilators per person that we do, yet
they’re now having to nurse people in the streets outside hospitals
because the wards are too full. We are still in the early(ish) stages
of our outbreak but many hospitals already can’t cope. Our NHS is
understaffed, underfunded, with staff inadequately protected and a
government putting extra pressure on it by not facilitating a proper
lockdown. I don't think there's any point pretending: I am terrified.