NHS Staff: Standing on the frontline with very little armour


While many across the UK enter into the early stages of self isolation and social distancing, millions of National Health Service employees continue to go to work, currently standing on the frontline in the nation’s battle with the coronavirus.

Photo: @NHSaaa

COVID-19 has dominated the news over the past few months, as hundreds of thousands of people have diagnosed with the virus across the globe, including the UK.

 According to the Department of Health and Social Care, as of 24th March 2020, there have been 8,077 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the UK, with this number expected to rise daily for the unforeseeable future.

The PM, Boris Johnson, and his government have seemingly been working hard to prevent the spread of coronavirus by implementing extreme measures, such as the announcement of a police-enforced lockdown, and the closure of schools, restaurants and shops deemed to not be selling essential items – just to name a few.

Johnson has even created a slogan to outline his approach to the outbreak of COVID-19: “Stay home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives”.

However, despite the PM’s insistence that we do everything we can to protect the NHS during this time, many NHS workers feel disillusioned with the government’s efforts as they risk contracting the virus everyday.

When speaking with one NHS worker, who has worked as a healthcare assistant for six years, she expressed how she did not feel protected from contracting the while at work.

She said: “I don’t feel safe from the virus at work because, despite visitors not being allowed on the ward, patients were going out regularly to busy places very recently”.

Another nurse, who has 15 years’ experience with the NHS, added that: “patients shouldn’t be going off the ward as we don’t know where they are going or who they are seeing”.

Many NHS workers have expressed negative opinions of the government’s approach to protecting the spread of coronavirus as many frontline staff have not been tested, despite the increased risk they face.

The feeling of dissatisfaction is being felt across the country, as a Change.Org petition has been circulating the internet recently, urging the NHS to allow nurses who are treating infected patients to be tested for coronavirus as a priority.

On the other hand, there have been some new measures introduced, as stated by a Charge nurse, who has worked with the NHS for around 2 years: “one new thing that has been introduced is that management are now holding daily COVID meetings, and staff updates following them”.

She added: “a temporary policy has been introduced as well, which allows patients to smoke in our ward gardens to prevent large gatherings”.

Alongside new measures such as these, other methods of staff protection, already employed in hospitals such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and compliance with Infection Control Standards are being more strongly advised.

NHS staff continue to voice their opinions, despite the lack of action taken by the government to address their concerns so far.

“The government could definitely protect us more by listening to what we are saying and enforcing practical guidelines based on staff questions and worries” said by a mental health nurse of six years.

The reality for millions of nurses across the country is that they are expected to stand on the frontline of this nation’s battle with COVID-19 with very little armour.

As the death rate among those diagnosed with coronavirus in the UK steadily rises, brave NHS staff continue to put themselves at risk of contracting the deadly virus everyday.

The government continues to emphasise the importance of protecting our NHS, while simultaneously ignoring the concerns and fears of those treating the virus everyday.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus is not the start of the government’s mishandling of the NHS and its staff, as the Conservative-led government have been blamed for the UK’s healthcare crisis in recent years.

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the NHS faces a host of new issues, coinciding with those that have existed for years.

Understaffed hospitals, overworked nurses and budget cuts continue to plague the UK’s health service, as it has for many years, putting those who work for the NHS under huge amounts of stress and discomfort.

As the coronavirus persists, the government continues to promote measures such as self isolation and social distancing, all under the disguise of “protecting the NHS”, however the PM and his government are seemingly neglecting its workers and putting their lives at risk.

Although is is everyone’s responsibility to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during this pandemic, protecting the NHS staff should be one of the government’s main priorities. However, as history shows us, this is rarely the case.

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