Today’s newsletter is a special edition featuring an exclusive interview with a nurse who worked in an NHS hospital throughout the pandemic and says she has never had so little to do. Now she feels compelled to speak out against the “most wilful of lies” she has witnessed, in the hope that “such a grave miscarriage of justice for health can never be allowed to happen again”.
Q. Did you see any Covid patients under 20 years old?
Q. Did you see any Covid patients under 50 years old?
Q. What was the general age range of the Covid patients?
Answer: Over 70
Q. Were the elderly moved to Care Homes?
Answer: Not immediately. Most were detained in hospital for a long time, absolutely unable to see any of their family. These patients would not be for resuscitation so essentially their treatment would be palliative. I do not think that hospitals are the best places to find comfort, dignity and symptom control so it was distressing that many patients could not be discharged sooner.
Q. As you mentioned, this virus mainly attacks the elderly. With the lockdown rules and the elderly unable to see their family for months, what effect has this had on their mental health?
Answer: It has affected their mental health enormously. Bewilderment, loneliness and isolation. I know many elderly people who have had to choose between obeying the fear and seeing their own grandchildren, with many hearts creakingly choosing the first.
They should never have been put in this impossible situation, compounded all the more by the fact these could be the final months or years of their lives.
Q. Approximately what percentage of the Covid patients had other serious pre-existing conditions?
Q. Please give us some examples of those pre-existing conditions?
Answer: Heart failure, Parkinson’s, strokes, leg cellulitis and leg ulcers, diabetes, kidney disease and general anopia are some examples.
Q. Was there a point at which you thought that this was not a pandemic?
Answer: I did not think this was a pandemic from the start. I think people were being intentionally frightened and this is what captured my attention. So, I decided to sit back and observe for differences between Covid and normal health problems. But no differences whatsoever were revealed to me.
Q. Were there any other patients in your hospital from April through August?
Answer: A very minimal amount.
Q. How empty was the hospital during those months?
Answer: Extremely empty. Bays that were normally full were completely empty. On several occasions I have had no patients at all for an entire 12-hour shift.
The hospital has speciality wards for medical emergencies such as strokes, which were always full (before Covid). An emergency episode like a stroke can be easily diagnosed and treated with thrombolytic therapy, a hugely vital service preventing death and worsening brain injuries. The stroke ward was virtually empty.
I know there is some belief that hospitals were empty because our usual patients were too afraid to come to hospital because of the pandemic. However, the majority of patients never brought themselves into hospital anyway, being so ill that somebody would need to call an ambulance for them as they had suffered a stroke or an epileptic fit or a fall.
In the main it would be a carer, district nurse or kindly neighbour that phoned for an ambulance on their behalf, but it seems that these calls just weren’t being made. It makes me shudder to think that these people, mainly the elderly again, collapsed and likely died at home as coming into hospital for treatment no longer seemed an option for them.
It is a simple observation and I would welcome any government official to compare hospital records from this year to every other year and examine why this category of patients were suddenly missing.
Q. What were you and the other nurses doing on your shifts in a hospital that was virtually empty?
Answer: Nothing. Although I did busy myself on one occasion doing an incident form as the stock supply of basic equipment was unacceptable.
Q. Were any other nurses or doctors questioning this?
Q. Could your hospital have coped with the Covid cases and carried on offering regular health care as they have done in previous epidemics?
Q. For clarification. Your hospital was nearly empty for five-plus months. People who desperately needed surgeries and other treatments were postponed for many months. Was this necessary in your professional opinion?
Q. Have you spoken to other nurses in different hospitals? What have their experiences been?
Answer: They all agree that hospitals have been empty, but most believe this was necessary to protect the public. But many never question it at all.
Q. While the country was clapping for the NHS, you were sitting in a nearly empty hospital. How did this make you feel?
Answer: I felt a terrible fraud when the whole country was clapping the NHS. Once, when I was on duty at the allocated clapping time, the staff that had had a rather quiet day, then insisted that everybody stand up and clap themselves as well.
I have to say this rather turned my stomach, and I had to make my excuses and lock myself in the toilet. I felt rather desperate to find colleagues that might be questioning it all, like myself, but it was clear to see that everybody was believing the media narrative.
I also felt despairing for my patients. Many were very alone and afraid, unable to see their loved ones. I think my saddest experience in all my nursing career was back in March when I had to lend my mobile phone to a dying man so he could say goodbye to his daughter. It felt utterly unfathomable that myself, this man and his remotely present daughter could find ourselves in this situation, and we all cried.
Q. What are your reasons for taking part in this interview?
Answer: As a nurse, acting in the best interests of patients and the wider general public has always been the most integral part of nursing for me. Sometimes my views may be opposed by other health care professionals, but I will always advocate for my patients to ensure they have the fairest and best treatment.
When the pandemic began, I certainly did not see action taken in the patients’ best interests. Keeping relatives away from their dying loved ones in hospital must surely be an infringement on basic human rights.
Scared staff were told to limit the amount of care given to patients, all very elderly, thereby compromising their personal hygiene, care and dignity. Doctors paid much less attention to all other health conditions as patients were not for resuscitation and considered “end of life”.
This hospital formula in response to the alleged Covid pandemic I believe is a direct link to increased deaths. If Covid produced different symptoms to other viruses, it would be an undeniable new and frightening virus, but life in hospitals looked exactly the same. If the stories of “this unprecedented new virus” were not constantly flooding all news and media, we would never even have known of its existence.
I can only say the most wilful of lies were being told during the height of the pandemic and continue today. Chief nurse Ruth May has said that nurses were at the forefront of the COVID-19 response and have worked so hard. She has said she is proud of how nurses have stepped up to the challenge. I do not consider this to be truthful at all. Some wards were full, but with no more patients than any other times and lots of redeployed staff. The workload was definitely less. Other wards were rather empty. Where’s the challenge? Where’s the crisis? Where’s this Covid?Interview with an NHS Nurse: “Where’s the challenge? Where’s the crisis? Where’s this Covid?”