As our simply incredible NHS continues to fight Covid-19, we caught up with one of the many on the front line. Gavin, a nurse returning after sixteen years away from the service, wrote for us back on the 29th March, and you can take a look at his first article here. Three weeks on, we caught up with him to see how he is feeling.
Words by Gavin Chambers:
In the words of renowned Welsh compatriot Bonnie Tyler, Britain was "holding out for a hero", and after returning to front line nursing after 16 years I have come across too many to mention.
I find myself as one of the many returning healthcare professionals called back to our former profession. I have felt on occasions that I have been completely out of my depth and comfort zone whilst at other times having simply a feeling of being back at home. In both instances I have been struck by what a great institution our NHS is, and the people who work in it.
However we are not alone. There are thousands of other key workers in this country going to work each and every day to literally keep the lights on and food on the supermarket shelves.
I have received many offers from journalists in both this Country and the United States wishing to talk with me. I have not taken up these offers, as frankly I just wanted to get on with the job and try to learn the new skills required. None of us are heroes returning to our professions - we are for the most part individuals who have no choice but to try and help out at this time. I am however very grateful for the hundreds of messages of support that I have received from friends, Conservative and otherwise.
I think one of the lessons this crisis has taught us is just how vacuous the whole Twitter/Instagram phase has been. The NHS staff I’m surrounded by are not taking silly pictures and posting self-promotional one liners, but simply getting on with the job.
The well-known journalists have been the disappointment of this crisis, rather than offering support and stability at the time of national crisis they have fanned the flames of panic and misery to the good people of Britain who simply just await news of hope.
Their shameless self-promotion is something that we do not need at this time.
There are many stories of hope going under-reported such as the kindness of many business who have stepped up to the mark in supporting the NHS and its staff. Examples extend to the likes of Addison Lee offering free taxis to NHS staff, free meals being sent to Hospital Trusts by local community groups and hospital charities facilitating iPads so that relatives can talk to their loved ones in hospitals at the most crucial time.
One issue that does need to be addressed is that of PPE.
This is not the time for political point scoring. The availability of PPE is in some areas is not as plentiful as others but in my own experience running low is not running out. Sadly in the hospital I work in, 3 fellow colleagues have died with Covid-19. The Royal College of Nursing (Nurses Union) latest guidance this week has stated that nurses are allowed to refuse treatment if they feel they do not have adequate PPE.
This will go against every instinct for healthcare professionals.
The challenge that the NHS now has is to play catch up. Thousands of non-urgent surgeries have been cancelled or postponed and vital cancer treatments across our country, delayed. The moment the peak is reached we must move quickly to start to return some of the routine services that our hospitals provide. These difficult decisions had to be taken and these decisions will help us to protect our patients, including those with Covid-19 and those with other conditions.
They will also enable us to help us be as prepared as possible by training additional clinical teams who are not specialists in respiratory illness. The 3 month pause on non-urgent operations alone has, vitally, freed up around 30,000 beds.
How the government has handled this crisis will be critiqued for many years to come. The thousands of extra hospital beds, the constant support be it financial or allowing the Army to help will in my opinion speak for itself. Not since the Thatcher administration have we had a Government that has been on the pulse of the nation.
When this is over (and it will be) we must continue to support the NHS as in times like these it’s glaringly obvious what matters the most to the British Public.
Despite people saying this is not a war it is, of course, the battle of our generation. For the first time in my lifetime you get a feeling of what the Blitz spirit must have been like.
I’m so proud every day of the job that our Prime Minister and his team are doing, not only in action but in spirit, rallying our country together supporting each other and helping us to fight on. It’s so heartening to see him continue to recover and his recovery like the recovery of our Country will make the next generation look to us in admiration, similarly to how we have looked to those heroes of the past.
So if you are bored at home please remember - boredom may not be pleasant but it is in no uncertain terms a luxury, which many key workers do not have. Please follow the government advice.
Thank you for your support.
Gavin Chambers, Chair of Islwyn Conservative Association and 2019 General Election Conservative candidate for Islwyn