Update from the Covid Frontline – is this the ‘end of the beginning’?

Nigel Beeton (pictured below in his PPE) works in Radiology in a hospital in the East of England. During this time of the coronavirus crisis, he is writing a weekly diary of his life at the hospital. 

Friday 1st May

Is it too early to start using the past tense with regard to Covid-19?

Well, yes, of course it is. To abuse Winston Churchill’s quote, this certainly is not the end, but it just might be the ‘end of the beginning’. At our hospital, we are down to just five patients remaining in intensive care, for which I (and many others) thank the Lord.

I have a feeling that the turning point was Wednesday (22nd). Up to then I seemed to have my visor on as much as off, assisting my staff, mainly in CT.

Then, on Thursday, they didn’t call me at all! Friday was a bit busier, but today (Sunday) the feeling that things are calming down is becoming more widespread.

I write with some trepidation, for even as a Christian I’m superstitious about using the ‘Q’ word. (‘Quiet’. NEVER use that word in the presence of a working health professional!)

I apologise, Gentle Reader, for my darker blogs of a week or two ago, when I was raging at idiots for breaking the lockdown. Indeed, I was tired, and I can now share that I had fallen victim not to the virus but to virus, when an agonizing rash spread across the right side of my body.

My GP asked me (on the phone) if I had been tired and run down. My slightly abrupt reply of ‘haven’t we all?’ got a grunt of assent before she diagnosed me with an attack of the shingles. But now I find it feels less as though I’ve lost a fight with an aggrieved stallion and my own mood is lifting along with many of my colleagues, so I find myself able to give thanks that so many did observe the lockdown, and now we begin to see the benefits.

Sometimes over the past few years the NHS has felt like a bit of a public whipping boy, and indeed sometimes we have let people down, and if you are one of those people I am genuinely very sorry; but please don’t ever think we do not care. We do. We get up in the morning in the hope of doing good, prepared to do daily battle with the forces that combine to do harm to the populations we serve. The Coronavirus is but one of those enemies, if you are concerned that any of the others have you in its grip, heart disease, cancer, anything, then do seek help; we in the NHS will do our best to help you and to protect you from any other kind of harm.

But suddenly we in the NHS are getting thanked. For forty years I have plodded towards various hospitals at various odd times of day or night, and never once has anybody stopped me and said ‘thank you’. Nor would I have expected it (they do pay me!) but that is exactly what happened to me on Monday morning. I was just getting onto the site when a lady who I have never met asked me if I worked at the hospital. I replied in the affirmative, wondering what was coming. “Thank you,” she said. “Thank you so much, all of you.”

Well, thank you, ma’am. I cannot tell you how much the appreciation and support of the general public has meant to us all. The rainbows in the windows, the ‘I love the NHS’ slogans appearing everywhere; the clapping on Thursday evenings. And let us pray that, standing together as we have done, perhaps we are all beginning to turn the corner.