• 09 September 2021
  • 8 min read

Nurses And Care Workers Should Be Seen As Heroes All Year Round

  • Amira Begum
    Scrub Nurse
    • Mat Martin
    • Richard Gill
    • Laura Bosworth
  • 0
  • 405
“We worked relentlessly throughout the pandemic. A lot of us couldn’t even have a proper break during our annual leave as we were covering bank shifts.”

Amira Begum tells us why she thinks that Nurses should be regarded as heroes for longer than just the course of a pandemic.

Topics covered in this article

Introduction

The Impact Of COVID-19

Government Response

Working Conditions

An Inequality Of Sentiment

In Conclusion

Introduction

The pandemic was difficult for everyone, I don’t think that there was a single person who wasn’t affected by it.

Whether you actually had the virus or not everyone’s lives were turned upside down.

We had all gotten used to a completely new reality where we had to adjust most parts of our lives.

Every working sector was hit differently during the pandemic.

It was a given that the NHS would have an increased demand for acute care and in particular intensive care.

However, I don’t think any of us were actually prepared for the immediate impacts of Coronavirus.

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The Impact Of COVID-19

The immediate effects of Coronavirus showed us panic buyers.

People were panic buying all sorts and it got to a point where we were having shortages in ridiculous things such as toilet paper.

I never understood the rationale behind panic buying toilet paper but this just showed us how people were being affected psychologically be the pandemic.

Anyway, due to all the panic buying and most of the Healthcare Staff doing shift work, NHS employees were often greeted by empty shelves.

A video that went viral where a nurse had gone grocery shopping after work and there was nothing left on the shelves.

This was the reality for most Healthcare Workers, it was incredibly frustrating because not only were we facing increasing pressures at work but then we also had to worry about scouring around supermarkets to feed our families.

I think this went on for a few weeks before essential workers were given protected shopping times, supermarkets were limiting customers to buying 2 items per person, and some supermarkets also allowed essential workers to skip queues.

This helped a lot during peak pandemic period.

Government Response

The government also provided NHS staff with free parking

Many councils suspended parking charges in council run car parks and for on street parking.

We were told we were critical, vital workers and we shouldn’t have to worry about paying for parking.

This was really beneficial because a lot of staff were able to save up the money they would’ve used for parking.

Personally, I don’t think essential workers should have to pay for parking at all.

However, just like all good things the government ended free parking in June.

A survey showed how most staff were paying upwards of £50 a month.

It’s incredibly frustrating as we were told we’re essential workers carrying out vital and critical work hence why free parking was introduced but it was taken away as if our work just stopped.

It’s as if we have eradicated the Coronavirus but as far as I am aware we still have COVID positive patients with numbers increasing yet again.

It should’ve been no surprise but COVID-19 saw a lot of over-worked nurses being burned out.

Working Conditions

We were working long hours and having to constantly wear PPE.

I think for most of us, the only time we were out of PPE was in the coffee room.

It was a new normal.

We had the daily risk of exposing ourselves to the virus as well as our families.

In addition to this, a lot of Healthcare Workers were also isolating away from their families.

I haven’t personally done this but I cannot imagine being away from my son for 14 days, it must’ve been very difficult for them.

Also, especially in the adult field there was an increased workload with a lot more admissions.

This obviously increased stress both in the workplace and in our personal lives.

Another factor that lead to staff burnout during the pandemic was the fact that a lot of NHS staff were also getting infected and having to also isolate.

This increased the crisis in staffing further.

Staff members were having to pick up extra shifts which meant they were also being overworked.

Some staff members were having to do back-to-back shifts to ensure patients were being cared for.

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Burnout can impact patient care negatively.

However, I can’t speak for all Trusts but I know the Trust I work for did make a wellbeing room for staff members which included a massage chair.

I think it was a nice gesture and did ultimately boost morale of staff.

Unfortunately, it was also difficult to make time to use, as you can imagine, there was one chair for the whole hospital so often times members of staff were using it so you would have to come back later.

We also had wellbeing emails being sent out which gave us self-care advice and we even had video links to work out videos.

I think due to COVID-19, the overall burnout and restrictions placed on the nation generally lead to disgruntlement amongst us nurses.

Then came the news about the 1% pay rise.

Now I’m all for a pay rise but the 1% means that I am receiving an extra £4.79 a week.

That covers my parking for one day.

To be honest with you I think the news of the pay rise was a slap in face for us all.

We worked relentlessly throughout the pandemic.

A lot of us couldn’t even have a proper break during our annual leave as we were covering bank shifts.

A poll by The Observer showed that 72% of the public feel as though the pay rise should be more generous.

This is something I also believe as I have felt the pressure of COVID-19 and seen my colleagues at breaking point as well.

It’s unfair to say that our “heroic” attempts are worth an extra £4.79 when a lot of us were working with covid patients and risking ours and our family’s health.

You can see what nurses take home with a 1% pay rise on this page.

An Inequality Of Sentiment

I think what I’m trying to get across in this article is my frustration.

I hate the fact that Nurses and the overall Healthcare Staff were only seen as heroes during the pandemic.

We only received these benefits during the pandemic.

Now, I don’t believe Healthcare Workers are superior to those working in a different field, but I do believe that we should be seen as the same heroes we were seen as in the pandemic all year round.

We deal with winter pressures every winter, we deal with staff shortages year-round and staff struggle with mental health year round.

Even now, staff members are struggling with child care when children are being sent from school and being told to isolate.

I also don’t like the fact that our healthcare support workers were not given enough credit during the pandemic.

Our wards, theatres and A&E departments wouldn’t run without them.

Their efforts are what help us all work efficiently.

We weren’t prepared to deal with the pandemic especially whilst it was at it’s peak.

We were just thrown into the deep end and expected to deal with it.

I think the whole nation even feels my frustration when we all worked so hard to wear masks, live in multiple lockdowns and have our whole lives turned upside down.

There are so many people that struggled with the new normal, parents with children had to settle them into new routines and teach them about the virus.

I can’t imagine the difficulties that parents with autistic children had when they couldn’t do a fraction of the thing they would normally do.

As a nation I think we all found Matt Hancock’s actions a big slap in the face when his affair went public.

In Conclusion

Overall, there were some benefits to the lockdown, however, I don’t think the healthcare sector was equipped properly to deal with the pandemic.

Healthcare Workers are still dealing with the overall burnout from this time and are disgruntled with the overall attitude change towards them.

We are no longer seen as heroes we’re just seen as regular healthcare workers who are doing their job.

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Do you have any questions for Amira?

Drop them below

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About the author

  • Amira Begum
    Scrub Nurse

I’m Amira, I qualified as an Adult Nurse over a year ago and I have been working in theatres since qualifying. I am an adult trained nurse working in a paediatric hospital. I specialise in spines, trauma and orthopaedics. Outside of work I am a keen baker and fitness enthusiast.

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  • Amira Begum
    Scrub Nurse

About the author

  • Amira Begum
    Scrub Nurse

I’m Amira, I qualified as an Adult Nurse over a year ago and I have been working in theatres since qualifying. I am an adult trained nurse working in a paediatric hospital. I specialise in spines, trauma and orthopaedics. Outside of work I am a keen baker and fitness enthusiast.

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