England’s chief nurse has said that NHS and care staff are working incredibly hard to cope with record numbers of Covid-19 patients, amid concern that frontline staff are close to burnout.
Ruth May pleaded with the public to follow the coronavirus advice to help relieve the pressure on hospital staff, after two days of record hospital admissions.
She tweeted: “My fellow nurses and other fantastic NHS & care staff are working incredibly hard to care for record numbers of very sick patients with Covid-19 so please, please follow the advice: remember ‘hands face, space’ and stay home to save lives.”
Adrian Boyle, the vice-president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, told BBC Breakfast that health employees were “tired, frustrated and fed up”.
He said: “What is it going to be like over the next couple of months? I don’t know, I am worried. We are very much at battle stations.
“There will be short-term surges of morale but people are tired, frustrated and fed up, as everybody is, whether they work in hospital or not. The people who go into emergency medicine expect it to be tough from time to time.
“There is a real worry about burnout.”
The Royal College of Nursing’s England director, Mike Adams, said staff leave was being cancelled to deal with the surge in demand. Adams told Sky News the expectation of a mass rollout in capacity through the Nightingale hospitals was misplaced.
Adams said: “If we are having to cancel leave to staff these areas, the obvious question is: where will the staff come from to open the Nightingales?
“I am sure there will be moves to open some beds; there are some beds open in different Nightingale hospitals in different areas of the country. I have real concerns that the expectation that this mass rollout in capacity can happen is misplaced because there aren’t the staff to do it.”
The concerns come after a major incident was declared at hospitals in Essex, as patients were being airlifted from an overwhelmed hospital in Southend to a hospital in Cambridge.
Lisa Ward, a lead respiratory nurse for Southend hospital, tweeted last night that the hospital was in a “very bad way”. Ward pleaded with the public to stay at home.
Homerton hospital in east London has asked administrative staff to help cover ward clerk shifts. It tweeted that they had “all hands to the pump supporting our front line staff”.