20 January 2021

What it is like in the hospital

Dealing with the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic is causing a great deal of pressure for staff and services in the NHS.

We asked our University Hospital Southampton staff to tell us what life is like in the hospital right now and what we’ve heard is so moving.

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We heard from one of our Senior Sisters in the Emergency Department:

I was re-deployed during the first wave but was thankfully allowed back in October after a period of stability of my asthma and losing a significant amount of weight. I felt I had to get back to my job and my team.

We have dealt with a steady stream of COVID positive patients since I returned, but since Christmas it’s been a veritable tidal wave, and we are seeing incredibly sick patients every day. Often resus is full of just sick COVID patients.

Over the weekend we have cared for patients not much older than most of our team who have sadly passed away despite our team’s heroic efforts to save them.

We have to tell relatives over the phone their loved one has died. When relatives are present they are often alone and we can offer no human contact as solace in their time of grief.

We are nursing in survival mode. We cannot offer a smile, a shoulder rub, or a hand to hold. We are trapped behind PPE which leaves its marks of trauma on our faces and aches for hours and days after we take it off.

I desperately try to lead my team to believe they are doing a good job, to believe they are making a difference, but then they leave work and see others gathering, flouting the rules and accusing us of lying about what is our daily life. It’s heartbreaking and belittles the deaths we are part of.

But amongst the COVID patients, we still care for the people who have fallen, those who have heart attacks, strokes, asthma attacks and mental ill health. Those who need our service and those who abuse our service. We are there for everyone, and we will keep on going no matter what.

The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it, and UHS is full of fighters.”

Tori Willis, Sister at UHS, puts into words what most of us are feeling and how essential lockdown is

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