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  • "The tsunami is coming and we’re all terrified"

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    I am a nurse providing specialist support to seriously ill patients at a large acute Trust in England. Today I have been working with patients who have COVID-19. I am angry and scared.


    Today I was nursing a patient on the ward who was very unwell. The test result came back as positive for COVID-19 and the patient needed to be transferred to the intensive care unit (ICU). I was concerned that the masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) being used on the wards are not adequate for such specialist nursing tasks.

    I consider (and it is the Trust's good practice guidance) that the mask that specialist outreach nurses should be using are the ones that ICU staff use. Specialist masks are needed for aerosoled treatment. So I use the specialist mask as the patient was going straight to ICU for aerosol treatment. When donning this specialist mask, one of the managers on the ward (someone who has budget responsibilities) said to me "you shouldn't be using that mask as it costs 8 quid."

    I have been 'covered by COVID-19 all day' and feels like it is just a matter of time before I succumb to the disease. Coming home last night I was convinced that the disease has been transferred to my husband and young sons.

    I asked my manager if, when the PPE runs out, will we be expected to nurse without a mask and protective clothing. My manager said that it wouldn't come to that. But I don't trust that. If there is not adequate PPE, I don't want to work and I believe that no one should be expected to.

    I am angry that nursing staff are being put in danger and that this will escalate in the coming weeks. Despite the assurance of the Deputy Chief Medical Office that the UK has "perfectly adequate" supply of PPE, my brother (a paramedic) has bough his own supply of masks as he’s sure that they will run out.

    It would be gruesome enough to be insufficiently protected if there weren’t enough masks to go around, and there are at the moment, but to be denied the essential equipment on cost grounds is disgraceful. The government are rightly saying ‘whatever it takes.’ Matt Hancock and the Cabinet need to know that their commitment is not being honoured.

    This is just my experience of course, but it’s clearly symptomatic of a culture that isn’t protecting staff and where trust is breaking down. 

    If there are no staff, there will be no patient care.

    The sea near the hospital is calm this morning. But it’s like its going to drag back slowly. We know the tsunami is coming and we’re all terrified. 

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