Sports Direct has shown exactly what not to do during this pandemic. If we’re to beat coronavirus, we have to be selflessThere seems to be a view amongst some under-70s, that coronavirus doesn’t really affect them and they don’t need to worry too much about it. I’ve listened to 69-year-olds tell me that because they themselves are fit and healthy, that it couldn’t possibly happen to them. Having just done a shift as a doctor in A&E over the weekend, I want to take this opportunity to warn people that this virus does not discriminate by age.
It was deeply, deeply eye-opening. Previously healthy people in their thirties and forties were seriously ill, some of them on ventilators. Being young does not grant you immunity to this disease. The symptoms of Covid-19 at its worst, are horrific. There can be no room for complacency.
Our health service is facing an unprecedented crisis. There is a limited amount of vital equipment, including personal protective equipment for healthcare workers and precious ventilators. Every extra person in hospital requiring treatment means there are fewer resources available for others.
London Covid-19 doctor says soon staff will be forced to choose whose life to saveRosena Allin-Khan, a Labour MP and A&E doctor, reveals ‘heart-wrenching’ decisions facing hospital workers
Rosena Allin-Khan, the Labour MP for Tooting and an A&E doctor, is still working regular shifts. On Sunday she worked at St George’s hospital in her south London constituency. She explains how the coronavirus pandemic has affected staff:
I’ve been an A&E doctor for 15 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this before. The departments are quieter because people are staying away from hospital, but the patients are sicker. We’re seeing a distinct rise in the numbers coming in with respiratory symptoms, who are testing Covid-19 positive.
On Sunday, very early in the morning, the entire resuscitation department, where the absolute sickest patients go, was full to capacity with patients with breathing difficulties. We had to move other very ill patients to the paediatric resuscitation area to keep them safe.
This is only set to get worse. We’re seeing patients now who would have only contracted the virus two weeks ago. In the coming 10 days we expect the entire A&E department will be taken up with suspected Covid-19 patients.
Doctors and nurses are brave, and the A&E department is known for being on the frontline and high risk, but there’s a palpable fear among staff for three reasons. Firstly, they’re frightened for their own health and those of the people they love. When I finished my shift yesterday, which was Mother’s Day, I came back to the house and I couldn’t touch or hug my two little girls until I put all my clothes in the wash and had a shower.
The second reason is that staff expect, very soon, potentially to have to make heart-wrenching choices about whose life can be saved if we don’t have enough ventilators. That goes counter to everything you’ve ever learned as a doctor or nurse – to make life-and-death decisions, where we could possibly have saved every one of those people, is unimaginable. This is what our colleagues in Italy are living through now.
Third, the patterns described thus far for symptoms of coronavirus are not what we’re now seeing in the emergency department. We’re seeing young, previously very healthy people, who are ill in hospital. Some are in their 30s, and they need ventilators to stay alive. Some patients are presenting with abdominal pain, which we hadn’t heard of before. A person can come in and say they have a stomach pain, and they’re put in the “green” area of the department – but then they mention they also have a cough. Everybody should be assumed to be Covid-positive until proven otherwise at this point.
There’s also a real concern among staff around the country about personal protective equipment. They either don’t have any, or if they do many feel it’s being rationed. It’s very hard to listen to some colleagues say that as a result of there not being enough equipment to go round, they’re resigned to catching the virus – it’s just a matter of when.
On social distancing, the messaging from the government hasn’t been clear enough. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has banned public gatherings of more than two people. It’s clear and easy to understand. There has to be no ambiguity in the language because people’s lives depend on it.
Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives.
The MP for Tooting has been working in her local hospital where doctors and nurses are already dealing with cases of covid-19. She warns that many of those being treated are in their 30s and 40s.
Dr Rosena Allin-Khan is the MP for Tooting but she is also a practising doctor in A&E.
She regularly goes in to do shifts in her local hospital St George's and has been in contact with her colleagues.
This Sunday she took a record down for Mirror readers about the situation faced by nurses, doctors and others on the frontline in the fight against coronavirus.
She said her latest shift had been a "deeply, deeply eye-opening" experience with previously fit and healthy people in their 30s and 40s "attached to machines, fighting for their lives".
And she has been deeply critical of the approach taken by the government in tackling the spread of the deadly virus.
"The Prime Minister has been blase about this from the start, waiting for others to make decisions so he doesn't have to. It is costing lives," she said.
Mirror Diary - Sunday 22 March6.30am – Leaving the HouseOn the way to work in A&E, to help out the real heroes of the frontline – the NHS staff who work day-in, day-out to keep us all safe. I am a bit apprehensive after seeing the stories that are being reported about Covid-19 and having spoken to colleagues across the country, but we need to come together at times like these for our communities.
7am – Reporting for DutyJust finished handover, which is when the day shift gets given notes on the patients who have come in overnight. There’s a very real sense that the number of cases are growing extremely quickly, something that will present a real challenge in the coming days and weeks. Some of the sickest patients that have been admitted have been young – they’re in their 30s and 40s, previously fit and well, but now fighting for their lives in Intensive Care (ICU).
There was a lot of talk in January that this was a virus just like the flu that only affects older people – that simply isn’t the case. There’s a real sense of apprehension ahead of the shift – we’re all expecting a rocky road ahead in the coming days.
8am- Protective EquipmentThe first part of the shift was spent looking for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – these are masks and aprons that keep those working on the frontlines safe. While we’d all rather be treating patients, we have to ensure that we are adequately protected so we don’t spread the infection between patients.
Frontline staff across the country are scared. We’re scared that we’re going to lose patients – we have spent years training to save every life that we can. We are scared of passing this deadly virus onto our loved ones because we don’t always have the PPE that we so desperately need. We’re scared that that if we aren’t properly protected, that we run the risk of spreading the virus between patients.
It’s vital that people practice social distancing measures properly – crowded areas will only add to the number of cases, and the number of people being admitted into hospitals across the country. In the coming days and weeks, difficult decisions will be made by my colleagues in ICU about who gets a ventilator – it’s that serious.
Midday – Resus overwhelmedThe whole of resus is full of patients with respiratory problems – this is the part of A&E where the sickest patients go. Patients are arriving breathless, with crackles so fine in their lungs, you can hardly hear them.
Their X-rays show white lungs where normally, they would look clear and black, full of air. Major trauma, such as heart attacks and victims of car crashes, are now being moved into paediatric A&E. The situation around Covid-19 is clearly getting worse by the day.
The talk amongst the team is that we feel that we will be overwhelmed in the coming days. I’m going for a refresher course on ventilators for staff – they’re also training new staff on how to use ventilators. The talk is, of course, feeling quite bleak as the day goes on – but this is what we’ve all been trained for.
4pm – Leaving A&EJust leaving A&E now – it’s been a difficult shift and a difficult Mother’s Day. At times like these, we must think about our loved ones - if we want to protect those dearest to us, we must stay indoors.
I’ve just called my husband and asked him to let our daughters know that they won’t be able to cuddle me and give me their handmade presents when I get home.
Instead, I’ll be getting straight in the shower and throwing my clothes in the washing machine – it is our duty to protect the ones we love. If we all work together, keeping our communities safe, we can, and we will, save lives.
NHS workers battling coronavirus are facing a “national shortage” of protective clothing, HuffPost UK has been told.Labour MP Rosena Allin-Khan, a working doctor who still works shifts in A&E, said scientists had told her that there were not enough body suits in the right sizes, while some doctors were only now starting to receive protective clothing.
It came amid new official estimates suggesting 5,000 to 10,000 people in the UK have coronavirus, leaving many doctors, nurses and other health workers at risk of infection.
Last month, the World Health Organisation also warned that there was a global shortage of protective masks and body suits.
One NHS source who worked at a hospital where coronavirus patients were being treated told HuffPost UK: “There were staff forced to wear oversized suits because that’s all they had.
“All we have left is XL.
“There is a national shortage of suits but this was raised with the government at least three weeks ago so something should have been done.”
Appearing on HuffPost UK’s Commons People podcast, Allin-Khan repeated the concerns.
“I held a meeting today with some people from the scientific community and they said their concern was though they had been testing out various modes of protective clothing, it turns out that there is a lack of the clothing they need available, the sizes aren’t available,” she said.
“Just yesterday - because people still contact me because I’m a doctor still, to let me know what’s going on - someone said they were a GP and had only started receiving the necessary protective clothing yesterday and this has been going on for a month now.
The Labour deputy leadership candidate criticised the government for moving too slowly to tackle from coronavirus.
In a departure from Labour’s broad support for the government, Allin-Khan called for tougher measures to tackle the outbreak, including testing those with symptoms for the virus as a matter of course.
Allin-Khan said the government’s testing programme could be “more robust”, reporting that “friends in the NHS” said people were being given “really unclear messaging”.
She gave an example of two people who returned from northern Italy who phoned NHS 111 and were told to wait for a call back which did not come for five days, during which time they self isolated.
When they eventually spoke again to NHS staff, they had to give their details again and had to self-isolate for eight days before finally being tested for coronavirus.
Test results are also taking three to five days to materialise.
Allin-Khan said: “We need to be moving quicker, people need to have a better idea of how to access testing, what it means for their daily lives.
“The messaging needs to be clearer and the testing needs to be more robust.”
She added: “We should have moved into the delay phase sooner than now and I don’t think we should measure our performance compared to what other countries are doing.
“I think we should be looking at what’s best for us and when you look at the fact that China had the same number of cases that we already have surpassed before implementing measures we do need to be listening to what the other scientific community, for example some eminent epidemiologists, listen to what they’re saying.
“Because ultimately we can’t leave the scientific community to be scapegoated for the government making bad decisions if they are proven to be wrong.”
Allin-Khan meanwhile sidestepped questions on whether she wants to be shadow health secretary under the next Labour leader.
“I like to focus on one thing at a time, genuinely, and I don’t think you should ever have a plan B because that’s implying you’ve accepted that your plan A won’t work out,” she said.
“So I am genuinely, steely focused on winning this deputy leadership bid.”
Put to her that she would be a good fit for the job, she replied: “Well I am a practising NHS doctor and I have got a master’s degree in public health and I care about our party so that’s honestly for whoever is the leader to decide.”
here you can read about my campaign activities