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The battle for survival in Britain's intensive care units

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Across Britain, intensive care nurses and doctors are being pushed to their limits as they try to save lives from coronavirus. During 12-hour shifts in sweltering conditions, they are faced with technical and emotional challenges that many have never faced as they tackle a virus that has swept across the globe in a matter of days, threatening to kill tens of thousands in the UK.

Britain has yet to even hit the peak of infections, but intensive care specialists are already asking how long they can keep working relentlessly.

“We are trained for and used to dealing with difficult and emotional scenarios, but this is like a major incident that never ends,” says critical care nurse Karin Gerber.

As an advanced nurse practitioner in critical care outreach, the 47-year-old sees patients in hospital who are getting sicker and may need to be admitted to intensive care. She says she has never seen anything “at this intensity”.

The Royal London Hospital is at the forefront of the capital’s fight against the virus and has created more than 200 extra beds at its Whitechapel site in east London. They are filled with COVID-19 patients.

Simon Richards, senior charge nurse at the Royal London’s critical care unit, tells The Independent: “In 20 years as a nurse this situation is by far the worst I have ever seen and totally unexpected, but the team spirit that people have shown has been amazing.

“It’s extremely difficult, we are working so hard. The whole team is being pushed to their limit and you do wonder how long can this be sustained for? I wish we could see light at the end of the tunnel.”

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Source: The Independent, 24 November 2020

 
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