Staff nurse: Everyone is worried

In order to protect those who are at a greater risk of developing complications from coronavirus, the NHS has published a shielded patients list identifying vulnerable people who need to remain at home.

According to the risk criteria, people who are at high risk of developing complications from coronavirus include:

  1. People who have had an organ transplant who remain on long term immune suppression therapy.
  2. People with specific cancers, such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma, people who are undergoing active chemotherapy and those with other targeted cancer treatments.
  3. People who are pregnant with significant congenital heart disease.

I spoke to Farai, a staff nurse at a care home in West London, who finished chemotherapy last year.

As an individual who is in the high risk category, do you feel that your workplace is maintaining the adequate measures to keep you safe? 

Farai said: “Not entirely; the masks are there and when you’re just dealing with normal patients, a mask is acceptable, but when you are dealing with residents who are positive, you have to have the full gear, which we don’t have access to.”

Some personal protective equipment (PPE) includes gloves, aprons, long sleeved gowns, surgical masks, and eye goggles. [Photo by CDC from Pexels].

How has coronvirus affcted your workplace in terms of staff shortages?

“Quite a lot of staff have gone off sick, and they were given letters to remain at home so there is a shortage. As a result we have had to rely more on agency staff, but the usual standard of work is not being maintained, which isn’t fair to the residents or colleagues – it’s a lot of pressure for the colleagues who are still at work.

“When corona started there was no PPE in place and our manager created an acute unit where residents who showed symptoms would be placed. After a few days residents would return back to their rooms, regardless of whether they had recovered or not.  The unit was not sanitised, which allowed the virus to spread, and we lost a number of residents.”

Are you worried about working and being an at-risk individual?

“Although the virus puts me at a greater risk, there are precautions in place for example washing your hands, and using PPE as per protocol. Everyone is worried and the worry will always be there, as we’re fighting a pandemic.” 

While most high risk individuals are receiving letters from their GP, those at moderate risk are not, but are still advised to ‘stay home at all times’; this includes people aged 70 or over, people who are pregnant, and individuals with heart disease. For further information on whether you are at higher risk of coronavirus, click here

Featured Image by Anna Shvets from Pexels

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