An ICU nurse says ‘our government failed us’ with NHS staff ‘so burnt out they can’t eat’

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An ICU nurse at an NHS London hospital has said “our Government failed us”. It comes as the capital’s mayor Sadiq Khan declared a “major incident” across the city in the face of soaring coronavirus (Covid-19) cases.

London hospitals will run out of beds within weeks if the spread of coronavirus is not dramatically reduced, Khan warned.

“It’s worse than the first wave”

Ameera Sheikh, 28, said that across the country some of her colleagues “are so burnt out that they can’t eat”. Sheikh is also a Unite union representative.

She told the PA news agency:

During and after the first wave, a lot of staff had handed in their resignation, and that’s across many hospitals in the UK.

A lot of people were just about coping in the first wave – because of the way that they were treated, because of what they saw, the trauma, and not being supported well enough by management – they left.

So now we’re seeing a massive surge, being in the second wave, and it’s worse than the first wave.

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It’s so stressful, my colleagues aren’t coping very well. Some of them are so burnt out that they can’t eat, they can’t sleep, they can’t bring themselves to come into work. How has our Government failed us, and had all these months to prepare?

Ameera Sheikh, 28, a Unite union rep and ICU nurse at an NHS London
(Ameera Sheikh)

Overcrowding

Meanwhile, the capital’s mayor said coronavirus cases were “out of control”. And he implored Londoners to stay at home “unless it is absolutely necessary for you to leave” in order to save lives and protect the NHS.

Sheikh also added that space at work was becoming more limited as a result of the “surge” in coronavirus cases. She said:

In our ICU usually all our patients have a bed in their own room, so it’s just one bed in one room…

But sometimes you’re seeing two beds in one room and you’re seeing a bed in between where two beds are… which then makes it a tighter squeeze.

On top of that you’re seeing nurses who are now doubled and tripled on the ICU. Usually the nursing to patient ratio is one to one, but you’re seeing one to two, one to three, one to four.

PPE still lacking

Sheikh also said that PPE supplies were still a concern. She claimed:

After all these months some of my colleagues across the UK are still wearing expired FFP3 masks…

A lot of them still haven’t been given the appropriate PPE-wear.

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