by Jon Biddle

Hey guys, I hope you have had a great Christmas and may 2021 be much better than what 2020 has been?

I have to say though; it hasn’t been too bad for Sam and I. The first lock down I took some time out of my work to concentrate of some writing. I loved it. Having that quality time to write creatively was a joy. I went. Back to work in the July to a waning virus. “On the run” I think the PM said, but how short-lived was this?

Christmas was different, like for all of us. It was quiet and without the excesses we are all familiar with. Spending the morning in the woods with my their 4 children, having a socially distanced mince pie and exchange of gifts was weird yet perfect. Never would I have ever considered leaving the house so early with the dogs and walking around an ancient forest on Christmas morning. Sitting on a log and drinking a thermos of coffee, chatting to my children. Yet their effort was magic and spending time with them when we had decided not to, was a quintessential gift for us as mum and dad. 

To be honest, both my son and I had discussed it three days earlier. Checking the government rules. This was acceptable. We were going to keep this as a surprise. But how miserable was Sam? For an entire day, I watched her mope about the house in her slippers. Asking her why she was so isolated, it was the children she was going to miss. The first one since my son’s first Christmas 25 years ago, we would spend it with no children. I blurted it out that we were going to see the children, and it was supposed to be a surprise. 

So, in the afterglow of that odd Christmas, a Christmas we will no doubt say “remember back then. On that Christmas?” I now have to face the reality, obligation and ethical duty of my professional life. The coalface with COVID.

I’m about to do my first shift back at work after Christmas and I have to say, I feel a level of anxiety not felt before.

The landscape at all NHS hospitals has changed in the last few days and looking at the numbers that are passing through the door are not the numbers leaving. Conversations with colleagues over the festive break while trying to get over my guilt I was feeling for not stepping into the breach was concerned. 

Mental health aside, when this is all over, how are all of us in healthcare going to heal from this? 

Most critical care units are resembling a war zone and talk of erecting tents in car parks to deal with the overspill of patients and prioritising care to the survivability ratings is unconscionable as a healthcare practitioner.

What most people don’t realise is that the normal aspect of what we as healthcare professionals call ‘winter pressures’ has to cope with winter related virus and disease as well a cope with the tsunami of patients that are coming through the doors unable to breathe. Hospital beds are normally at capacity come January for the past ten years or more and we could wax lyrical about successive governments asset stripping the NHS back to the bare bones but that isn’t helpful here, right now.

Come January, applying the figures to the stats that Public Health England has produced along with the winter pressure numbers, I can’t see how the service can function. It’s that simple. While we all applauded the licensing of Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines and the challenging roll out to the wider community, both January and February may well be the coup de grâce of the beloved NHS. I have a genuine fear for the integrity of the NHS as an organisation. I am going to pin my ears back, grit my teeth and do the best job I can do in these tumultuous and adverse times. I know I will tested mentally and physically; I know my colleagues will band together like we always do and face the abyss of the unknown with an amazing steadfastness. The one thing I can candidly say as a veteran. The team in which I work with are some of the most amazing human beings I have ever had the pleasure to work with, I admire them, adore them and love them – even the weird one, you know who you are.

The one silver lining here is that C-Difficile infections and norovirus outbreaks have been dramatically slashed. The simple answer to this is hand washing. How amazing is this? 

I guess what I am asking today is, please, please, mask up, keep your hands clean, keep social distanced and Do NOT come to hospital unless you absolutely have to.

 

Happy New Year

 

Jon

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