The Medics Who Went Back To The NHS Frontline To Fight Coronavirus

Victoria, who used annual leave to return to the frontline, was just 90 minutes into her first shift on a hospital ward in 10 years when she encountered the woman who was in her nineties and dying of coronavirus. “For her to have ended her life alone would have been heartbreaking and it was an honour to be with her in her dying moments, particularly as none of her family could be.” The biggest realisation for Victoria was the severity of the pandemic and what NHS staff were having to face countless times a day. But despite the fact that it had been a decade since she’d worked on a hospital ward, Victoria told HuffPost UK that when it became clear the coronavirus situation was escalating, she felt the “adrenaline kick in” and wanted to help. Since returning to work at a hospital in the West Midlands in early April, she has been doing shifts ad hoc on weekends and days off while still holding down her full time job. “But I felt the real heroes were those who do this job in the hospital every day and it was heartening to see their attitude and the way they kept going.” Vanessa Smith, a senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, also responded to the call for help.  The 34-year-old approached her manager and asked if she could take a two-month secondment from her role. She told HuffPost UK: “It felt right to offer my help by going back to the wards and putting my clinical skills to use.” Vanessa had previously worked at the hospital before joining the BHF and was still in touch with her former colleagues. Her role at the BHF involves making sure the information booklets published by the charity are medically accurate and patient friendly. “It was exciting jumping straight back into the deep end, but I also felt anxious as I knew I would be looking after some of the poorliest patients with Covid-19,” she said. “All the extra layers and tight face masks made it very hot so we had to rotate every few hours so we could have breaks to drink water and have food.” Within a day of beginning her shifts, Vanessa was looking after an elderly gentleman who was coming to the end of his life. “I’ve seen first-hand how much this virus can affect people who were previously independent and working.” Vanessa said her time on the wards has been tiring due to the long shifts and huge emotional impact, but said it had been great to support fellow staff. Chloe MacArthur, 34, told HuffPost UK she has no dependents – no children to homeschool or dogs to walk – so felt it was her duty to return to the NHS frontline. “It makes me think about how distressing it must be for loved ones at home waiting for news about their critically unwell husband, wife, brother or grandmother, unable to hold their hand while they sleep.” She added: “Whether they are in intensive care or on the wards, they are more than just Covid patients.