I am a NHS worker, a nurse, soon to return to clinical practice after a long time away from being regularly involved in it. Apart from teaching future and current clinicians the skills needed to work effectively, with people at the centre of everything they do. This may range from the technical skills of procedures in the clinical skills room to communication with each other, in teams and with patients with simulation based learning. It’s a great job that involves variety, autonomy and flexibility. It is also convenient for family life as I can easily fit in my cycling habit around my hours with a little fore-thought to ride more than 100km a week, more in the summer.
The pace of work over the past 2 weeks has been unprecedented, at times chaotic and changeable, often from hour to hour. Evolving training priorities and little capacity of other teams to manage this has meant that I have been more than useful in bridging a few gaps. I have been pulled from pillar to post to meet an increasing need to prepare for what is coming. Needless to say, I left work exhausted yesterday and in a low mood at the end of an increasingly scary week.
I took a reflective writing class a couple of weeks back in preparation for the second module of my course which now looks as though it will be pushed back to September at the very best. Riding home, reflecting on the metaphorical hard road ahead, I thought that a positive way in which to get through the next few months could be to chronicle events as they unfold. Understanding my feelings and recognising my tipping point before I fail to cope has never been a particular strength of mine. I was brought up not to “moan”, just get on with things and “soldier” on, get the job done. Consequently I tend to bottle things up which isn’t helped by my preference of my own company. Don’t get me wrong, I love being in a team and contributing. One of my strengths is to be a leader within rather than being THE leader in a team environment but I never have been that good at expressing my feelings constructively.
Paradoxically, this can damage relationships both within the team and my personal life. I hope that reflecting and writing will help. A $H¡T storm of the like that me and my colleagues have never experienced is here and going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better. I’m not a negative person by nature. Nor am I overly positive. I’m open to, and often embrace new ideas and concepts but I am a realist to know when or why things won’t work. Sometimes others confuse this with cynicism and negativity. Sometimes I am, most times not. But I do try workarounds and be resourceful (you have to be in the NHS or any health delivery system). I just like to look at all angles before I wade in to express my opinion. The current plague is a case in point.
- Contrary to what the public are told by our politicians, we DO NOT have enough of the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). We needed what we have now 4 weeks ago but it was not there and we WILL need more for at least 8 weeks as a result. I know this because it was not available when I wanted it for learning and had to beg borrow and even steal it to make it happen. But Covid 19 isn’t going to wait for a time-out while we get our $H¡T together so we have to do the best that we can with what we have. So I feel scared for myself, my colleagues and my family. But I can only influence what I can in my small part of action and not waste energy on what I cannot change.
- In typical British prose, while the Government are telling the truth of sorts, they are not being explicit. If you are patient facing in healthcare, you will know that they are sanitising the truth. I presume that this is to avoid widespread panic but this makes me so angry. I think people need to know and deserve the truth, even the ones who think that buying 48 rolls of bog roll will help the situation. We can mitigate peoples behaviour by policing it and enforcing lock down rules anyway.
- What was initially encouraging today was the daily statement from Number 10 that it is thought that we will do “very well” to limit deaths to < 20,000 people in the UK. This truth is more the kind of thing that people need to know I thought. We have only reached 1000 today which should tell us something about the annihilation in the weeks to come. At best, this figure is worst case best scenario conducted from some scientific model. But did they liken this to an historical precedent like the 1st day of the Battle of the Somme (19,240 British & Commonwealth soldiers killed)? Or international cricket ground capacity like Lords (30, 000), the Oval (26, 000) or Edgbaston (25,000)? Nope, they expect people to read between the lines in typical British fashion. I do a lot of work that focuses on good team communication that includes the pitfalls of assumptions leading to human error. I think that the Downing Street comms team need to come to one of my classes.
- As a result, my fear is that there
couldwill be more as some people still seem to think that we are on some kind of holiday. Because the dangers were not made explicit in personal terms for people to truly understand before it was too late. And because social distancing was not enforced early enough with consequences if they were not followed. And don’t get me started on that unaccountable, un-elected toad Dominic Cummings who is now quite happy to hide after his gross error in advising policy based on modelling that lacks any sort of rigour.
- This is an invisible siege but a siege nonetheless. Like 1940 Britain is an Island with limited resource for a number of reasons and facing catastrophe. But I do understand that we can see more of the best in people than the worst in times of crisis. I hope that the best of me is enough for my colleagues and my family.
Good luck everyone and stay safe. Treat everyone outside of your house as if they have this virus. It’s the only way for now.