From clapping to sacking - 18 months in the life of a nurse

Posted by Ed 21 days ago

This is a guest post from an anonymous nurse.

I care. It’s a reflex, and the reason why I could only ever have become a nurse. I don’t consider that this makes me a more virtuous human being. I certainly never wanted to be clapped for it. You can’t switch caring off. The role of the nurse is to relieve suffering. Sometimes this might mean making someone physically better, but not always – more often it is about making the individual feel better regardless of the outcome.

It was strangely fitting that on the 5th September, the day we were told that NHS staff might be forced to have the Covid-19 vaccine, I noted that 100% of the patients I look after as part of a Covid patient remote monitoring service were vaccinated. Not the majority of the patients, all of them.

The Covid patient remote monitoring service was set up in Autumn 2020, as a sort of virtual Covid ward, to monitor Covid positive patients remotely, facilitate early intervention should there be any deterioration in condition, offer support for symptoms and reduce the need for hospital admission.

This week, every single patient on the virtual ward is double or triple vaccinated.

A number of things struck me about the patients who were being referred to us. The first was that they were ill. This might seem obvious, but what I mean is that they were ill regardless of their Covid status. Many reported a deterioration in pre-existing conditions, citing difficulty in accessing medical care, chronic conditions not being managed etc.

Fast forward a year and this is an even more prevalent picture. Many patients have not seen a doctor for 18 months, blood tests are delayed, there has been no hospital follow up appointments, lost e-consults, hours spent waiting in phone queues and there is still fear of attending appointments. We often spend longer sorting out patients non-covid related health problems than their covid symptoms.

I’m not GP-bashing, merely stating that the present system is not fit for purpose and that the restrictions imposed over the last 18 months have had significant implications for public health.

The second thing that became apparent was the extraordinary role that nosocomial infections were playing in the cases and transmission of the virus, particularly during the autumn/winter surge. At times, over 80% of our patients had acquired Covid in healthcare. Sometimes this could be directly attributed to a recent hospital admission of the individual.

Patients were admitted for falls, cancer treatment, blood transfusions, heart attacks and then, unfortunately, discharged Covid positive. These were often the sickest patients – the very people who we were all ordered to stay at home to protect. 

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