‘Hospitals on the verge of failing’: UK health workers speak out

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On On Monday, for the first time since the first days of the UK vaccination program, new cases of Covid exceeded the number of daily doses administered. As England lifts most restrictions, six healthcare workers, from paramedics to pediatricians, speak out about the reality amid rising coronavirus infections.

Paramedic, East England

Hospitals are very close not to cope ”

This is horrible: hospitals are on the verge of failing and our ambulance service is on the verge of declaring REAP level 4 [extreme pressure]. We are seeing a lot more of Covid now with an increase in cases. We are bringing more people to the hospital who are really sick because they had to wait for treatment during the lockdown. Their conditions could have been managed if they had been seen earlier, but now they are deteriorating and are in an acute phase. When you hear about the restrictions being lifted, people seem to forget that it’s not just about people dying from Covid – it’s cancer patients and those on kidney dialysis. I fully understand the frustrations of people, but we are not in a good enough position. What’s scary is when the media calls us ‘heroes’ – it’s really dangerous because heroes don’t need to be protected because they don’t die, but we’re just humans like everything. the world. I still have night terrors of driving people away from loved ones knowing they are going to die. I’m in therapy but quite often I think to myself, “Shit, I can’t do this. I don’t want to do this anymore. I think there are a lot among colleagues because mental health cases are exploding and people cannot cope with it.

The pediatrician, northern England

We have seen winter admissions levels in the emergency department ”

Over the past few weeks, we have seen winter emergency department admissions levels. Modeling suggests that the numbers have yet to peak. We mainly see viral respiratory tract infections in children, and those numbers are expected to worsen. This is because children would normally have been exposed to it in the winter, but they have been locked up so are not safe now. Another concern is the increase in cases of children with PIMS, a fairly rare but potentially very serious post-infectious viral infection, with some children requiring intensive care treatment. There is also an insufficient number of psychiatric beds for children, which means that we have a significant number of children with mental health problems presenting in acute medical pediatric units, where they are now stranded. Overall, it is unbearable to work in this environment and made worse by staff absences due to self-isolation. Due to these high levels of admissions, elective surgical cases are canceled. An elective non-urgent case will at some point become urgent if not dealt with in a timely manner. I think the decision not to immunize children is a reckless one. They should all be offered vaccines.

The GP, Isle of Wight

We have had families who tested positive with the Delta variant ”

We are fortunate that none of the clinical staff have had Covid Since May, however, we have had families testing positive with the Delta variant and many children have had to self-isolate. We’re also still working on the same backlog we had in May. Even though people are vaccinated, it takes three weeks to work, so I think we’ll continue to see the number of cases increase as the restrictions ease. For us, the biggest concern is that masks are no longer mandatory and getting rid of them is something we just don’t feel ready to do. In our opinion, this is not just a concern around Covid, but viral illnesses that we see in children. The masks are for both patients and staff and I think we can always insist that people wear them due to the healthcare environment in which we work. I understand the summer restrictions being lifted as we tend to be calmer with other illnesses as we are more outside but with the increase in cases you are just wondering if we should have a few more weeks to allow for people’s immunity from going on. Everyone talks about the flu in winter, but we are already seeing winter illnesses in children.

The Midwife, Greater Manchester

Many more staff are having to self-isolate due to family members having Covid ”

I work over 60 hours a week to cover illnesses as many more staff have to self-isolate due to family members with Covid, or they’ve come into contact with someone who has tested positive. We have also seen an increase in the number of women and their partners testing positive as well. We have to isolate them when this happens and we only have a number of side chambers which are normally reserved for women with sepsis or have high blood loss. If the cases hit 100,000 a day, we’ll have to put them in bays because there aren’t any anywhere else. I have met women who do not want to be vaccinated because they are worried about how it might affect their baby before it is born. Most of them reserve a postpartum jab, but pregnant women are vulnerable and Covid is still a danger to them. The lifting of the restrictions might be a bit too much at times. There are people in the hospital who have had two vaccines so it’s not foolproof, and the more people who get Covid, the more likely it is to mutate.

The Intensive Care Nurse, London

We have had Covid patients throughout the year, they have never stopped coming, and at any given time at least one intensive care patient with Covid, although since the last peak in January, a maximum of four at one point. Before younger children were offered vaccines, we regularly had Covid patients in their 20s in intensive care.
Sadly, we are already seeing people loosen up on precautions like washing their hands and wearing face masks. They enter the hospital without thinking of the dangers. For now, we can manage, but we ask ourselves, “Is this going to come off the charts again?” “. I will definitely always wear face masks and hope people continue to be careful. I hope people will be reasonable in public, stay home if they feel unwell – even if it is just a cold – and continue to be vaccinated. I dread winter enough.

The Cardiac Physiologist, Birmingham

Many patients with long Covid have been referred to us ”

Many patients with long-term Covid have been referred to us to see if it has affected their hearts. We don’t know much about it and we want to see if it has an effect on other parts of their body, not just their lungs. Referrals have increased as services that were closed have now reopened. Some patients stayed home with their problems and were too afraid to go to the hospital or see their GP. It is only now that they are referred for all of these tests and that is why we are seeing an increase. I think lifting the restrictions is difficult. The number of cases in the community is increasing, so on paper this does not seem like the right time. My main concern is the people who travel. While we’re safe here, we don’t want to bring variations from other parts of the world, especially if other countries haven’t had such good immunization programs. We have a responsibility, not only nationally but globally, to tackle it.


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