The Covid-19 frontline: diary of a respiratory doctor

Part 2

Dr Neda Hasan (DH 2008), a respiratory doctor at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, shares stories from the frontline against the virus.

1 June 2020

More stories from the frontline

Dear all, just your friendly neighbourhood doctor again. Here is the next edition of what we are facing in the NHS these days. Just a warning, I am continuing with the terrible bullet point format of my last entry!

The bad bits

  • Patients have been terrified about coming to hospital and, therefore, presenting late and critically unwell. We lost a young patient who was well known to the whole team for the past 6 years. When he died, our hearts broke. The unsaid tragedy of this pandemic is that Covid-19 has stolen focus from thousands of our patients with chronic conditions.
  • Just as we have gained some control over this crisis – the lockdown has been eased in a haphazard and illogical manner. The NHS is dreading a second peak. The country is being led to believe that the fire has been extinguished – when in truth there are embers lying in wait. In the NHS, we are trained to critically appraise information, to use well-researched evidence, to leave no ambiguity in our instructions. Our government has applied none of those principles. Mr Johnson gets full points for enunciation though!
  • We lost one of our nurses last week. She died of Covid-19 whilst working tirelessly to save others from the same fate. Another member of our NHS family who deserved so much better. This may come as a surprise to many of you, but the Government has blocked an inquiry into whether a lack of PPE could have contributed to the deaths of hundreds of NHS workers and carers. We feel like our deaths do not matter…
  • I have had a painful sore on my ear for the last 6 weeks due to PPE. I’ve stopped wearing my glasses, I can’t lie on my right side, I keep catching it with my hairbrush. Since it’s here to stay, I’ve named it Eustace.

The good bits

  • Our respiratory physiologists have rallied in the most extraordinary manner. Overnight – the number of patients requiring ventilatory
    machines in hospital quadrupled! Within a matter of days, the respiratory physiologists rounded up machines from the community, made new ones using 3D printers, and checked hundreds of machines! Without them we would be utterly lost.
  • A young mother is being discharged after beating Coronavirus this week. She has been in intensive care for five weeks and narrowly escaped death. Yesterday – she had her first full plate of solid food. One man’s prime rib is another woman’s jacket potato.
  • Both parents and children of one household have been admitted with Covid-19. After not seeing each other for three weeks – they enjoyed seeing each other face to face, for fifteen minutes. I caught them competing over who required the least amount of oxygen over a cup of tea!
  • A nurse confused me for one of my consultants this week. This consultant is brilliant, kind and incredibly beautiful. I’m sure the error had nothing to do with me wearing full PPE.

About Dr Hasan

Dr Hasan (DH 2008) studied Chemistry, Biology, Economics, Maths and AS Level Physics before heading to Imperial College, London to study Medicine. After completing her medical studies, she spent two years at the Royal Berkshire Hospital and Wexham Park Hospital as a Foundation Doctor, moving around departments including adult medicine, neonatology, A&E and surgery. In August 2016 she moved back to the Royal Berkshire as a Core Medical Trainee where she became a Medical Registrar.

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