A&E consultant, south-west
Who we resuscitate and who will get a ventilator will be challenging. As the only senior doctor on shift in the respiratory zone the ethical decisions will be tricky. I may come into conflict with my intensive care unit colleagues.
We came into this profession on the basis of our goodwill and altruism but that is being put to the test in a very extreme way as we are all really worried about the stocks of PPE (personal protective equipment). I was testing people on an ambulance ramp four weeks ago dressed like I was going to see an Ebola patient, in full PPE with FFP3 masks and visors. I think they realized that wasn’t sustainable as the patients kept coming through. I’m now treating suspected Covid patients with a level one surgical light blue mask and scrubs.
A huge number of second home-owners have descended on the area and it’s put an ever greater demand on our surgery. A lot of them have been quite unpleasant, very demanding and seem to feel their needs are greater than others. Among the locals, we’ve had patients denying they have had contact with anyone with viral symptoms, and have then heard their dad has the flu; others are returning from high-risk areas and not telling us. If patients are not being truthful, we need to treat everyone as high risk.
We have been contacting the local hospital to get protective clothing sent to us because we just have normal latex gloves and have even had to go on the internet to buy scrubs. I’ve been in isolation since last Wednesday because my kid has had a temperature and I’ve been doing triage calls from home. Another local GP has five out of seven staff in isolation.
Meanwhile, normal stuff in communities keeps going on. Wounds need to be dressed, children need vaccinating, infections need to be treated. But that needs to happen in a safe environment, with screening and protection equipment.
Senior paramedic, East Anglia
We’re receiving infected and non-infected patients in the same ambulance bay until proper measures can be put in place. But the main concern I have is that we don’t have the facility to protect ourselves. Crews have access to only four surgical masks per shift – we’ve seen a huge depletion of all our PPE equipment
It’s almost like crews have to choose where and when and with what patients they wear the equipment. In the A&E recently, they were down to one box of 20 surgical masks for the whole team for the entire day, so they put measures in place where you had to wear the same mask all day between patients . This is reckless. When they become wet they become inefficient.
Our trust guidance lags behind that issued by PHE [Public Health England] and it leads to huge confusion. Ambulances need about half an hour out of service to properly decontaminate, but senior staff limited that time to 18 minutes. My fear is that my staff are going to get unwell and then we won’t be able to offer a service.
All that aside, I’m surprised at how good morale is at the moment. The challenge has really pulled us all together, we’re working as a family.
Pharmacist in Manchester
We’re at breaking point. We are struggling to get hold of common stock like paracetamol and inhalers, and we had four days ’worth of prescriptions to fulfil on Tuesday. One of the wholesalers said they had People off sick in the depot last week and we just placed an order three times the value we would normally have. We’re inundated, and one of my colleagues is off with symptoms. This is my th day working on the trot.
I feel anxious that I’m exposing myself to symptomatic people on a daily basis. I couldn’t tell you how many times people have said that they have a dry cough and a fever. At that point I say you shouldn’t be coming here if you’ve got any symptoms. But there’s a lot of ignorance out there.