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Graduate doctors thrown in at the deep end during Covid-19 pandemic

By Nosa Omoigui
June 30 2020, 12.25

Newly qualified doctors have had a baptism of fire during the coronavirus pandemic.

While lockdown has taken its toll on some people, doctors haven’t had the chance to go stir crazy.

Ben, 25, is in his first year practicing full time and experienced first-hand the initial strain put on the NHS.

Ben continued: “I remember turning up to work that week and there was no one in. We had 30% of our regular staff for the ward I was covering which was horrendous.

“We’d gone from having fairly normal patients to very sick patients with covid who were either slowly getting better or they were dying. The acuity in the workload went up massively.”

It wasn’t just the increased volume of patients that doctors Ben to worry about.

His six months spent during surgery weren’t enough to prepare him for the scale of death that corona would bring with it.

“In surgery people are very unwell but they don’t die, cos the surgeries cured them.

“Then when I came to general medicine It shocked me to go from a situation where someone would die maybe once a month and it be a big thing on the ward to having two or three people dying a day.”

The virus has warped the concept of normal for people all over the world, and doctors have experienced this as much as anyone.

Even routine procedures for Ben carried a great risk, as a person’s condition could turn at any minute.

“We had a patient on the ward who was quite unwell but who we were still treating, and we thought he was going to pull through. I went to put a drip in them before they went down for a CT scan, and they just vomited and died in front of me from covid within the space of about 5 minutes.

“In normal times when we thought the patient was going to get better, we would’ve tried everything to resuscitate someone. But in the time of covid it takes so long to do it safely that it becomes this paradoxical situation where it’s not the best thing you can do for a patient because you’re just going to prolong their suffering.”

The clap for carers became a lockdown staple, with people showing their appreciation every Thursday for 10 weeks.

THANK YOU: People all over the country did their best to show support to NHS key workers

Even though it has now ended, it wasn’t a gesture Ben wholly agreed with.

Ben added: “It’s a very nice gesture but it singles out the people in the NHS as the only ones doing any work – but in reality there’s a lot more professions and people around the country doing just as much as us without getting any recognition.

“My sister works for Tesco and it’s a hard job she gets abused quite a lot at work which we don’t really get. I think it singles out the NHS as the only people doing anything in this crisis.”

The pandemic still has no end in sight, with the UK’s death toll reaching 40,000.

It could be a while before doctors are able to return to something resembling normality.

“I’m more worried about my personal life,” Ben said.

“I’ve put everything on hold. It’s just the feeling that this lockdown’s going on forever and ever. I just wish it would be over. You go to work, do a day’s work, come home and there’s absolutely nothing.”

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