Over the course of the last year, through three national lockdowns and countless hospitalisations, and with a population that grew scared of the simple act of human touch, the NHS staff have become a guiding light. These heroes have shed blood, sweat and tears for each patient, demonstrating a passion for their work, and willingness to risk their own lives and wellbeing for the safety of others and this country.
Words are not enough to express the gratitude that we all feel for their work. Here, we highlight a few of the NHS staff from the Dawoodi Bohra community who have been tirelessly working on the frontline throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Each member has shared a significant challenge and some practical advice to the general public – in the hope that those reading this will have a glimpse of what the pandemic has been like for medical staff across the world.
Challenge: The biggest challenge for me was updating the families of the diseased and deceased on the phone – this took a heavy toll on our mental health.
Advice: As an ICU doctor who has been on the frontline fighting COVID-19 for almost a year now, I can say with certainty – please do not hesitate to go to the hospital in emergency situations. They have adequate precautions in place to prevent you from getting COVID-19.
Challenge: One of the major challenges during this pandemic has been balancing long work shifts in the COVID ICU with life under lockdown at home.
Advice: Please take the vaccine! After clean water, vaccination is the most effective public health intervention in saving lives.
Challenge: Conducting consultations remotely via telephone and video has been very challenging during COVID-19.
Advice: Keeping medical equipment at home, such as a thermometer, blood pressure monitor and pulse oximeter, allows you to provide vital signs to help your doctor diagnose and manage your medical condition. This can potentially save your life.
Challenge: The biggest challenge in my 28 years at Good Hope Hospital has been to see the tremendous change due to Foot Fall policy for the hospital. I mainly did Telephone consultation covering a 2 million patient population as a urologist. As a Medical Examiner I saw many precious lives in demise – it was a terrible thing.
Advice: Stay safe, maintain social distance, get vaccinated and follow Government guidelines
Challenge: COVID-19 has caused disruption to the normal training schedule of junior doctors. There has been a mass redeployment of junior doctors to COVID wards to help tackle the pressures caused by the virus.
Advice: I would highly recommend that, when offered, the general public take the vaccine and help defeat this virus!
Challenge: The greatest challenge I faced was making difficult decisions in treatment escalations. It was heartbreaking to see patients unable to be with their loved one during this difficult period – merely limited to virtual hugs and conversations.
Advice: My faith and belief kept me going during these trying times. It is very important that one does not lose hope and faith no matter how trapped or anxious one feels.
Challenge: Being a frontline worker, there was immense pressure on additional duties, on-calls and frequent night shifts. Several new COVID wards opened as the pandemic worsened. This led to being tired both physically and mentally as we dealt with the continuous stress of those dying around us.
Advice: Trust the research! This pandemic has highlighted the importance of research all over the world, learning about new drugs and new techniques to treat this deadly virus.
Challenge: The most challenging part I found was always thinking about the risk of transmitting the virus not only to myself and patients but to my family back home. Despite all the challenges, I always felt my faith was protecting me.
Advice: Stay strong and true to your faith.
Challenge: The COVID-19 pandemic has created a sense of danger, uncertainty, and loss of control, requiring mental health deterioration and crisis.
Advice: COVID-19 is very real, and everyone must follow appropriate PPE and social distancing guidelines laid down by the government.
Challenge: The past year has been physically and emotionally tough on everyone; even those staying safe at home. The biggest challenge of this pandemic has been the sheer number of patients to look after. To date, I have personally cared for over 500 patients on life-support machines.
Advice: Remember – together, we’ll find resilience! Stay digitally in touch with friends and family – share stories, share affection, and share a smile.
Challenge: My experience as a Midwife during the COVID-19 pandemic has been extremely challenging and humbling. The most challenging aspect was when partners were not allowed to come into hospital when women were in labour – many partners missed seeing their babies being born.
Advice: My advice to all pregnant women is that we are here for you. We will care and support you and your families in every aspect of your pregnancy, birth and postnatally. Please don’t be reluctant to get in touch with us when you are worried about yourself or your baby, we are only a phone call away.
Challenge: We as doctors are getting frustrated that we cannot provide patients with services like referrals to hospital specialists, x-rays scans and other tests because hospitals have had to suspend these activities.
Advice: Have faith in the vaccine – it is safe and there are no hidden adverse effects. It is imperative we all get vaccinated as soon as offered.
Challenge: Working in A & E I have seen a lot of patients unwell with COVID. We all have been through tough times but faced it bravely and sacrificed a lot. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
Advice: Follow national guidelines, take the vaccine and be safe.
Challenge: The most challenging aspect of COVID-19 was losing a colleague in our Emergency Department.
Advice: Despite the sensation like sometimes the world around you has frozen, don’t lose focus of what truly matters to you.
Challenge: The biggest challenge during COVID was working in completely unfamiliar environments, finding my way around trying to organise things, and constantly being careful that I don’t carry the virus home.
Advice: Have faith. COVID is a condition that has changed our lives forever in many ways – good and bad. It’s up to us which one we want to focus on and carry with us to the future, the good parts or the bad! I choose to carry the good and important bits – family, friends, faith, kindness, love, compassion and gratitude.
Challenge: As a Paediatrician and an advocate for my patients, it has been very concerning to see the significant impact on mental health on children and young persons across the UK. Children are not in their natural environments as a result of lockdown and school closures.
Advice: For all those parents, guardians, children and young individuals, speak to each other; sharing your burdens will make them easier to carry.
Challenge: COVID-19 hit the UK about two weeks into my starting a new job where I was promptly redeployed to the bereavement service on our acute sites for a few months before returning to children’s therapies. During that time, it was upsetting to work with distressed families who were unable to support and be with their loved ones at the time of their passing.
Advice:. Remember that children contract and spread the virus at roughly the same rate as adults (although their symptoms are usually milder) so continue supervising younger children to ensure they wash their hands more frequently. Change it up to make hand-hygiene motivating and fun by using different colours/scents of soap, adding glitter or starting a sticker chart.
Challenge: The most significant area of change for me is telephone consultations. Losing the ability to assess and examine the patient felt like working without my right arm.
Advice: Always look for ways you can improve when presented with a challenge. For me COVID-19 has improved my dedication to patient care and safety. I now question things that are done as routine practice to consider whether it is necessary or beneficial, allowing my practice to become more advanced than before.
Challenge: The most challenging thing throughout this pandemic has been keeping distance from family and not being able to see the ones we love for months at a time.
Advice: Stand firm and look after yourself