“As clinically trained doctors, this was the one time when the country needed the NHS more than ever. I have never experienced anything like this in the quarter of a century since I qualified.”
I am an NIHR Research Professor in Endocrinology & Metabolism and Head of the Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism. In my current role, I have the privilege of treating patients in the NHS, teaching medical students and postgraduate students, and carrying out cutting–edge research. Every day is different and I couldn’t think of a more interesting and rewarding job – 26 years after qualifying as a doctor, I still love what I do!
Everything came to an abrupt halt with COVID-19 and the UK lockdown in March. My team and I all volunteered to be redeployed full–time to care for COVID-19 patients in Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust (mainly at Charing Cross Hospital).This was an easy decision. As clinically trained doctors, this was the one time when the country needed the NHS more than ever. I have never experienced anything like this in the quarter of a century since I qualified.
We worked together in ‘pods’ as a team and this meant that we could support each other as we treated the relentless numbers of COVID-19 patients which came through the hospital’s front doors – we are all experienced doctors, but no one had ever treated any patients with COVID-19 before. It was a steep learning curve to know what the best treatment was for the patients we treated and to cope with seeing patients on a daily basis who tragically passed away from the virus.
This was made worse by the fact that the patients’ family and loved ones could not be with them and we supported the patients, families and each other to get through the pandemic.Anyone who had seen this would take the 2–metre social distancing seriously as the virus knows no rules, and there is still very little we can do to cure patients currently.
In May, the number of cases of COVID-19 in London fell and my team and I have returned to our previous roles in a safe way. All our meetings are now on Microsoft Teams / Zoom and we have managed to submit a number of publications from research we had done before COVID-19. We have also published a paper on the stress hormone levels in COVID-19 patients from our time on the front line which will help to optimise the care of COVID-19 patients in the future.
We are now in the ‘new normal’ phase of working and all need to support each other to get through these challenging times in the knowledge we will emerge the other end post COVID-19 and get our lives back to normal, but this will take some time. In the meantime, stay safe, keep smiling and carry on.