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NHS staff in northern England 'exhausted' amid second wave fears


Doctors and nurses in areas of northern England with some of the highest Covid infection rates have described being “physically and emotionally” exhausted, as the NHS braces itself for the second wave of the pandemic.

Most of the north has been put into the tier 2 “high risk” category, with Merseyside in the highest – tier 3 – bracket. While politicians debate whether a nationwide circuit breaker would be a more effective instrument to curb spread of the virus, frontline staff – still scarred from the first wave – are under no illusions as to what lies in store.

Carmel O’Boyle, a nurse in Liverpool, who is also chair of the Royal College of Nursing’s Greater Liverpool and Knowsley branch, said members of the public had used A&E and primary care sparingly during the first national lockdown but mixed messages and a lack of trust in the government had led to people throwing caution to the wind and attendances were rising accordingly.

“The nurses across my branch are frightened and exhausted – physically and emotionally,” she said. “They’ve been dealing with this for months and now there are more people in hospitals than there were in March. Although we know a little bit more about how to treat people and the kind of path of the disease process, it’s still frightening. It’s just so demanding and so draining to be nursing people in this manner without any family involvement and with the complications that there are.”

A consultant in Manchester, who did not want to be named, said her hospital coped with the first wave but “the difference this time is that we’re trying to continue all of the elective activity and that’s going to be challenging.

“I do think that we will manage the Covid cases. I just now worry about whether we will be able to continue to keep the normal care for people who need their operations [and] need care for cancer."

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Source: The Guardian, 15 October 2020

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