Intensive care doc begs for snack donations to help staff cope in Covid battle

An intensive care doctor is appealing for donations to help exhausted staff cope as they battle to help coronavirus -stricken patients

The doctor, who work at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, told how staff often work 12.5 hour shifts in full PPE and often miss breaks.

He has put out an appeal through Hampers for Heroes, a charity set up to try to help frontline workers at the hospital, for coffee and snacks to help keep exhausted staff going.

The doctor, who has asked to remain anonymous, told Birmingham Live : "Pre- Covid we had the largest ICU in Europe and have now doubled our capacity and tripled our staffing.

"As I’m sure you are aware, we are now swamped with Covid patients and our staff are really struggling. Almost a year into the pandemic and we are back on emergency rotas with very low morale.

"I cannot fully describe to you what it is like at the moment. Our staff work 12.5 hour shifts in head-to-toe PPE, often missing their breaks as there is simply too much to do and not enough hands.

"Normally each patient would be looked after by one specialist ITU nurse. Currently each ITU nurse is looking after three or four patients, and supporting a team of non-specialist staff made up of both nurses and doctors who are helping them with nursing care.

“They are exhausted. This has been going on since March and there hasn’t really been any reprieve. We have already lost a lot of staff to burnout, and yet it is still not over. As medical professionals we are not very good at looking after ourselves and tend to just soldier on."

The doctor is part of the hospital's ICU Wellbeing Team, which is trying to make day-to-day life a little easier for nurses and doctors.

When the pandemic first broke out, the staff received donations but, almost a year on, there are less coming in.

"I’m part of the ICU Wellbeing Team who are trying to do little things like make sure there are enough break rooms for all the staff, stock coffee rooms with nice things to eat and drink and provide toiletries in the changing rooms," added the doctor.

"We had quite a lot of donations from big companies in the first wave but almost one year in these have dwindled off. The main things we are struggling with is keeping the coffee rooms stocked and products for a well-being pack for all staff. We currently have over 1,000 ICU staff so this is a bit of a mission.

"I can personally attest that there have been points in the last year where my mental health really suffered. I normally love my job and what I do, so to run out of the hospital and drive home in floods of tears is unusual for me, and sadly it was not just me like this. We need help now, not in six months’ time."

Hampers for Heroes was set up by kind-hearted mum Victoria Hanson, of Solihull, Birmingham.

Shocked to hear staff were close to reaching breaking point, Victoria and her team of volunteers rushed to help by launching an appeal.

In just over a week, they raised more than £5,000 and collected mountains of donations, which are now being packaged up and delivered to the under-pressure staff.

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