March 25, 2020 11:37 AM

Coronavirus: Dr Rosena Allin-Khan's A&E diary as staff fear they will be 'overwhelmed'

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 March

6.30am – Leaving the House

On 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 Duty

Just 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 Equipment

The 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 overwhelmed

The 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&E

Just 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.

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