Nurses prepare for a second wave

We hear from healthworkers on the front line

By all accounts, it seems as though lockdown is pretty much over by the 4th July, with the majority of businesses free to open up safely. While this is all happening, behind the scenes, the NHS is preparing itself for the potential second wave. Here’s the news straight from the front line. By Michael Delaney.

Taking over hospital space

We’ve reached out again to members working in the Staffordshire trust of hospitals to find out what’s happening.

Currently, in their critical care ward, there are less than half a dozen Covid patients, allowing the nurses to use the rest of the ward for other critical cases.

However, in the coming weeks, plans are being drawn up to systematically take over sections of the ward and other areas of the hospital as cases increase.

This will allow the staff to contain Covid positive patients away from the rest of the hospital and staff, and keep other services running as normal as possible.

Taking care of staff

Working for 12 hours in two layers, full PPE, no aircon and no open windows or doors is the definition of hell in summer. To counter this, proposals have been put forward to change the shifts into 3, eight hour rotations, to allow staff less time gowned up.

“If you’re with a Covid patient, you stay by their side most of the time in PPE. So realistically, you only have 3 opportunities on a 12 hour shift to degown and have a drink. We’ve had staff faint a lot, so the change in shifts makes a difference.”

Mental health care

Counselling services are also being offered to staff.

The chances of a patient surviving in critical care are usually 30%. This is even less with Covid.

The responsibility of informing the family falls to the nurses looking after them.

Your training doesn’t prepare you for making those calls. You know that feeling in your stomach when you have to tell someone bad news. And if the ward is full of Covid patients, they’re not allowed to come in to say goodbye. It doesn’t ever get any easier to make that call no matter how many times you do it.”

Bringing in special teams

The scenes in Italy of patients lying on their front was alarming for most working in healthcare.

This is called “proning” a patient, and only happens in severe respiratory cases. It was a stark warning of what was about to come.

It can take 6-8 people to safely prone a patient. So, there are teams on standby to do just that. It can make the patient very difficult to nurse, but it gives them a fighting chance of getting through the illness.”

Have your say

Thursdays used to be our chance for celebrating the difficult work our health care workers do, day-in-day-out.

If you have any thoughts, words of encouragement, or other messages, we’d love to pass them along.