NHS doctors and nurses reveal they’ve bought masks off eBay and cancelled honeymoons as fighting a ‘war’ on coronavirus

LAST night many of us stepped outside our front doors to applaud the NHS staff for all of their hard work during the coronavirus pandemic.

But few of us will understand the brutal reality that doctors and nurses are facing on the frontline of the battle against coronavirus.

⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates

To celebrate our heroes, GLAMOUR magazine has interviewed nine inspiring women working in the NHS.

Here they share their stories from having to source medical masks on eBay to missing their own honeymoon to help patients…

Dr Lauren Jones, 30, respiratory doctor, SHO (senior house officer) on the Covid-19 isolation ward at Russells Hall Hospital, The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust

Covid-19 has had a profound impact upon everyone in the NHS, our job roles, mentality and working practices.

We have had to become adaptable in our roles, more focused and united as a team to support one another in the common goal of caring for our patients and fighting the Coronavirus.

For me, my drive and determination to get through this comes from my family and my two very young children – their wellbeing is paramount, and I truly believe that if we come together as a nation, we can beat this virus.

We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of local businesses who are donating food daily for staff.

Many acts of good will such as flowers and cards thanking us for our continued dedication, and not forgetting free parking for all staff!

Michaela Lydon, 31, mental health nurse at a Tier 4 CAMHS unit

It is very difficult to implement social distancing within the ward due to the nature of the service.

We often need to hold young people with no advance notice and so it is not always going to be possible to run and get gloves before doing so.

Just knowing every day, I am putting myself and others at risk, just by being in close contact with people, which I can't do anything about.

I live alone and so without work I would feel completely isolated.

I have always enjoyed my own company but now I have limited choice I will think twice about cancelling on dinner plans and meeting with friends in the future due to tiredness or laziness.

Dr Laura Ashton-Edwards, 31, anaesthetic registrar

Anaesthetists are some of the few doctors with the skills and training to care for patients on life support, so my time is now spent caring for patients in intensive care.

In order to have enough anaesthetists in the hospital 24 hours a day we have restructured our work pattern.

I now work longer days, and 50% of my hours are night shifts. Many of us have cancelled holidays to make sure there are enough doctors available for the number of patients we expect – sadly for me this included my honeymoon!

The disease itself, in its severe form, is frightening and because of the job I do, I’m surrounded by it constantly.

We have had incredible advances in medicine at times of war. And that is what this feels like, a war where the medics are on the front line

I place trust in my colleagues in the NHS, that they will be there to care for me.

It’s a catchphrase, I know, but it’s extremely powerful sentiment for us – we keep calm and carry on. You can’t be paralysed by fear.

We have had incredible advances in medicine at times of war. And that is what this feels like, a war where the medics are on the front line.

Ellie Pantlin, 26, emergency nurse

The way in which we deal with patients is now different to normal.

I am growing concerned that my relationship and care of patients is through a mask and I feel less able to build a rapport.

Working as part of a team has given that impending doom feeling at work a huge lift. This gets me through each shift in A&E.

Being strong, resilient and enthusiastic during this time will be extremely powerful.

I honestly believe our emotions influence others’ and if we remain positive, we will surpass this outbreak.

Louise Elgie, 32, care assistant

Working in a residential and dementia care home, the lockdown has really affected us on many levels.

Families, relatives and friends are also unable to visit which is heart-breaking because their visits are so important, as well as our activities programme, to their mental and emotional wellbeing.

Because of my job I already do this but, more than ever, I truly will value time with my nearest and dearest.

Learning the value of freedom in particular is another positive I will take from this and being able to do what I want when I want to.

Humans really do make the world go round and this will definitely impact my appreciation of life more so than before once we move past this period in time.

Nagla Elfaki, 28, junior doctor in obstetrics and gynaecology

The uncertainty and knowing things may get worse before they get better.

For our patients in particular, pregnancy and childbirth can be pretty scary at the best of times so naturally lots of our patients and expectant mothers are really anxious and so we’re doing our best to minimise their risks and reassure them.

Friends and family have been great and the general feeling of support from the public is really encouraging too.

People have been so generous, and we have been inundated with food and letters of support.

Dilly Karunaratne, 24, junior doctor

I’ve only been working as a doctor since last summer when I left medical school so it’s really rare for juniors like myself to get that experience! It’s crazy.

I live with my parents so that has been hard as I have a fear of seeing my family, my boyfriend, my friends as I’ve clearly been exposed to the virus.

I’m working longer days so it’s been difficult. It’s been hard dealing with the fear that family members of patients express when their loved ones are in the hospital.

Getting ITU experience during a pandemic is a one in a lifetime opportunity and feeling like I’m contributing to a bigger cause is a positive.

Aaniya Sherwani, 25, doctor (senior house officer)

Our training directors have been working with us to create a new rota so we can best prepare for the tsunami of patients that is going to flood the hospital over the coming weeks.

The rota is called the ‘Pandemic Junior Doctor Rota’ – this means all the junior doctors in the hospital will be pooled and pulled to work in whichever department or ward needs us most.

There is definitely a sense of determination and camaraderie among us

Sadly, no one in the department has received any PPE (personal protective equipment) and we’ve either had to buy our own masks on eBay or manage without.

Luckily my dad bought me a mask off eBay a few weeks ago so I’ve got one if things get bad!

It’s going to be intense, all sense of routine and normality will be lost… it’s going to be like nothing we’ve experienced before.

But it’s also exciting. There is definitely a sense of determination and camaraderie among us.

Claudia Wisdom, 28, labour ward coordinator and midwife at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington

A lot of pregnant women are worried to come in as they’ve been named at risk.

When women are giving birth we are still there to provide one to one care in labour but we have to wear full protective equipment.

The baby has to stay with mum at all times, which is reassuring for the family.

At times I do feel anxious but I remind myself that I’m young and healthy and I should but fine. I feel lucky that while the news portrays death every day I get to see new life every day.

See GLAMOUR's special celebratory cover and read the full feature, available online now.

In other coronavirus news, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis joined the rest of the country to applaud the NHS.

And this woman admitted that the lockdown has left her and her husband at each other's throats.

Plus this teacher has urged parents not to homeschool their kids.

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