Curious Peas

Dear Blog…

And Then Came The Lockdown…

Dear Blog,

Here we are. The UK is in lockdown. It has been another eventful week as the government trys to get control of the ever growing corona-crisis. On Monday 23rd March, Boris Johnson announced that we would be going into lockdown, only being allowed out for essential shopping, medical reasons, exercise and work (if you can’t work from home). Social gatherings have been limited to just two people (unless you all live together) and these measures will be reviewed in 3 weeks, however it is expected to last a few months. During the week, it has been reported that a few well known people have caught the virus. Prince Charles and our Prime Minister himself, to name a few. Not entirely surprising given the amount of people they must interact with on a regular basis even in lockdown. You know things are bad when McDonalds shuts its doors. At the beginning of the week, the leading fast food chain decided to shut up shop in order to protect it’s employees. It’s a bold move but amicable. I will miss those free hot chocolates though…

As for the NHS, it has been another exhausting week. It has been announced that three new field hospitals will be built/modified with the aim for them all to be operational from the middle of April. One in London (the biggest of all three and due to open next week), one in Birmingham and one in Manchester. 750,000 people have signed up to become volunteer workers for the NHS which is absolutely amazing. Thank you to everyone who has signed up. Their role will be to help distribute medical supplies to those who need it however the role is still being finalised. Enlisting all these volunteers is amazing but I do wonder what PPE will be available to them. It has been widely broadcast that the NHS is seriously low on PPE across the country and Norfolk isn’t any different.

Work has changed dramatically this week. Half of our department has been shut off and become the designated “dirty” area. The aim is to become an extension of HDU should we get more ventilated patients. It makes sense to use the theatre department in this way as we are trained to deal with anaesthetised patients on a day to day basis and this way, it is in a controlled area with plenty of support nearby. Our day procedure unit (DPU) has closed due to the lack of elective operations (my trust has now cancelled all elective operations including cancer related cases. I believe the plan is for private hospitals to help with the cancer cases as they will be free of covid-19… in theory) so DPU staff have joined our ranks and have been getting accustomed to the department. It is aesthetically pleasing; We now look like a fully staffed department.

The hospital has rolled out it’s colour coding system: Green for a covid free area and yellow for suspected or positive covid and the corridors are lined with black tap asking you to stick to the left. Parking is also free for staff now which means I can drive to work and limit my bus use. I’m so glad I passed my test before this all happened…
These are positive changes however the canteen will still happily charge me £6 for chicken and chips, drink not included.

It was announced that we should be wearing full PPE for every case, regardless of what role you play within the theatre team. I whole hearty agree with this and believe it is something we should have been doing weeks ago however this new ruling has diminished our stock. The PPE we have to wear is a gown (usually a surgical gown), gloves, a FFP mask (I spoke about those a few weeks ago) and a face visor. The mask and visors are what we run low of the most and while we have been told to throw away every mask that we use, our visors can be cleaned and reused. It is far from ideal but until the government can give us more, it is what we have to do. And this is a nationwide issue…

My shifts are all over the place at the moment. Night shift one day, day shift the next then back on nights. I’m trying to provide support where ever possible because frankly, I just feel utterly helpless at home. I want to help anyway I can, even if that’s just by making people laugh with my silly dancing. Also, I feel a day off is too much of a risk. Each day to the next, the rules are changing and I need to stay on top of what is our current guidelines. You take a day off and it’s like walking into a mine field. It is absolutely crazy how much changes.
I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen within the next week. It’s too hard to predict. The government has announced that NHS workers will begin being tested as of next week however it was initially announced that it will only be staff who are self-isolating. The theory being, if they test negative then they can come back to work and help. We’ll have to wait and see if it actually happen and if it happens in sleepy Ol’ Norfolk…

Stay safe and remember to wash your hands.

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