'We don't consider ourselves heroes': NHS staff on coronavirus frontline

What is it like being on the frontline against coronavirus?

Rachael Broad, critical support worker, who works at Russells Hall Hospital
Rachael Broad, critical support worker, who works at Russells Hall Hospital

NHS staff are risking their lives everyday to treat sick patients.

They are the heroes who are battling against the outbreak which has been dubbed a war in the media.

Doctors and nurses at Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley have spoke candidly with the Express & Star about their experiences amid the pandemic.

Are you scared for your own health?

Many of us may feel safe inside our homes during the lockdown.

People have been advised to only leave for essential purposes.

But for NHS staff, they have to wake up everyday and travel to the Covid-19 front line at hospitals.

The Express & Star asked some Russells Hall Hospital staff if they were worried about getting coronavirus.

Kate Hall is a special palliative care nurse who has been there for two-and-a-half years.

She said: "First and foremost, I am absolutely dedicated to supporting patients.

Kate Hall, specialist palliative care lead nurse

"But it is a worry about it getting back to your family."

Emma Massey, a senior physiotherapist for has been there for a year, said: "Obviously you have a job to do. That is what we are here for.

Emma Massey, senior physiotherapist

"Although you are always worried about taking it home to your family. First and foremost, we are here for the patients."

Jas Kaur, a senior radiographer, added: "It is scary but there has been reassurances from wearing personal protective equipment."

Jas Kaur, senior radiographer

Do you consider yourselves heroes?

Doctors, nurses and other health staff are considered heroes amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But, unsurprisingly, that is not the consensus among some staff.

Dr David Stanley, service lead critical care

"We don't consider ourselves heroes," said Dr David Stanley, a consultant in critical care.

"We are trying to do our best for our patients, as we do everyday. But this is very different.

"I have been here for 12 years but have never dealt with so many sick patients at the same time.

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"The credit should go to all of our nurses in intensive care and theatres.

"They carry out full shifts in protective clothing. It is very difficult, uncomfortable to wear and makes doing the job a lot harder."

How are staff coping?

The pandemic is proving a deeply worrying time for the general public. This is proving no less true for NHS staff.

The NHS this week launched a mental health hotline for concerned workers.

Kim Jarrett, a clinical nurse specialist, leads up a dedicated team aimed at supporting staff members with these concerns.

"As you can imagine, there are some staff with anxieties [about Covid-19]," said Kim, who has worked at the hospital for 17 years.

"We are going round departments offering support to staff and providing demonstrations for personal protective equipment. We want to make sure they are safe."

Kim Jarrett, clinical nurse specialist infection control

Clinical support worker Rachael Board revealed the exhaustive work staff are having to do, saying: "People are working extra hard. People have been planning five weeks [for the care]. We have spent a huge amount of time on this and everyone has been working with everyone in the hospital."

Praise from bosses

Frontline staff have received huge praise from their bosses at Russells Hall working in such difficult circumstances.

Diane Wake, chief executive of the Dudley Group NHS Trust, said: "I am so incredibly proud of the way all our staff have risen to this challenge.

"Many have taken on new tasks to ensure we can care for our patients at this really difficult time.

"We always knew we had a compassionate, dedicated and professional team here and we are seeing the 'Dudley spirit' shine through.

"We have also been supported incredibly well by our local community.

"From regular hot food deliveries to toiletries for staff and card and pictures to adorn our walls, they have been so generous and willing to do all they can for us.

She added: "We continue to ask people to take on board everything they are being asked to do at this time to protect our staff, not to mention themselves and their families, by staying at home and only going out when it is absolutely essential as per the Government instructions.

"Please make sure that if you are out, you observe social distancing, and do not meet up with family or friends who do not live in the same house as you – even if you are outdoors.

"We are all working incredibly hard to get through this pandemic but we need the public to play their part too."

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