Thursday March 26th 2020:
I slept badly last night. It is another busy day operating at work, but I know I'm not experiencing a fraction of what the other teams looking after the covid patients are. They are suffering. I know from a nurse friend who used to work in our own hospital ITU and still keeps in contact with her former collegues up there, that they are getting pressure sores from wearing the protective masks for so many hours a day caring continuously for the sickest covid patients during their 12 + hour shifts. I feel like a total shrimp doing what I'm doing compared to what they are all doing, I have no doubt that the amount of support they are giving each other up there will be better than most teams anywhere as they wade through their daily grind. I also hope that they are getting support outside of ITU, time out to rest, to reflect, to offload, to find joy with their families at home,.
Lockdown in the UK has been taken on, schools are closed, with children are being home schooled, and people are working from home. Many things are on tv advising on how to make lockdown a pleasurable/educational/ nourishing/healthy/fun experience. I've not been home much as I've been working through my leave which had been booked some time ago, but it doesn't seem right to be at home, and with many of our team in the department self-isolating (themselves or family members with one or more covid symptoms, the lack of testing means they are forced to be at home under the current advice. I admit I am finding it hard to hear of people enjoying their lockdown as though it's a holiday, a staycation. I don't begrudge them, of course I don't, we need to keep this country upbeat and continuing to thrive beyond the depressing news everyday! And Boris and his team are doing a great job of the live daily updates in a way that keeps the nation informed and opening themselves to the questions that so many are asking (although noone is uttering the word Brexit anymore!). I ponder that ignorance is in fact bliss . I wish I was ignorant to it all. Inside knowledge and close proximity to the realisty is what creates the stress. It doesn't feel like it should be a time to party. And that's my issue to deal with in my own head.
Dad shares a covid reporting app today which I promptly share with all my friends . I then find out it is my colleague’s husband who set it up. I make sure we and my family stick to a rigid daily report on it . Genius idea. As is much of the work this man does. And he’s on bbc news talking about it.
It was decided at our team meeting today that I won’t be deployed to the wards for certain. Much to the relief of my husband and family. Much to the lack of honour for my comrades to be deployed while I stay working in the dermatology department. I know it is not something which will easily be overruled, and I also know that some of us need to stay back to keep the derm dept running, and we will be spread out in what, where, and how we do this. Things for us are changing daily. My lead consultant is doing such an amazing job under huge pressure, to answer so many questions from the hospital leads, and the staff she oversees, and doing this whilst juggling the clinical work too, has been a feat of some size, but she has managed it calmly and elegantly. We are all behind her. We will do whatever it takes in each of our roles to make this whole thing as seamless as possible. Working in different ways, whether on the wards or in the derm dept or elsewhere is going to be our new normal for a while.
Tonight is the first clap for nhs - it’s overwhelming . So many people out and videos from friends sent to us too. I see the emotion in my husband's eyes as he claps furiously on the balcony of our flat along with many others on our development. I can’t stop my tears. They are the heroes on the frontline. Not me. But I feel nothing but utter pride for the institution that I work in, and long may it survive. I hope that this time makes us and the whole country take a long hard look at the way it has been running for so long, and with so much dedication and goodwill. We are seeing that A&E departments can be empty of minor things, ambulances can be left to do only the emergency work that they are meant to do, GP’s can see only the patients that they absolutely need to, dermatology departments can also do the same, and IT departments and hospital trusts the nation over can enable digital systems at the drop of a request without a hundred meetings telling clinicians why they can’t have permission to use a digital system for remote and more efficient triaging. The NHS can change after this, and for the better good of the people who work in it for the people who need it. I pray for greater change in this institution so we can keep it going, but that will require changes in people’s mentality at all levels of the profession and also in the public. The NHS was broken, morale was low, but work ethic remained high. And here it is again for all to see that despite its suffering it defies any other organisation in its ability to fight and to work and to provide for its most needy. Please let us rebuild it in ways that make it indestructable in the future.
By Dr Sam Anthony
Survivor of a career in medicine, a career break from medicine, cancer, and blogging..join me in my quest to make us happier healthier individuals and doctors