During this current lockdown state for Coronavirus (COVID19), I had to take a few weeks to write this piece. The reasons why I had to wait, is so I could calm myself, rationalise my thoughts, and not let me anger to how staff have been treated globally get in the way.
Some of the reasons I chose medicine at 17yrs old was interest in science globally, and genuinely because I like to help people. I have co-founded a charity whilst in university, I have volunteered in countless charities and voluntary groups, and even volunteered for months in Africa, Nepal and Peru to help as a medic.
I am someone who works hard for their career, nothing has come ever easy to me. Medical school was one of the hardest obstacles. For the majority it would take me about ten times longer to fully comprehend and understand exam topics. Perhaps it also had to do with my having dyslexia, or I am just someone that needs extra time to get to grips with things. Either way I would spend most evening revising until 2am, including the weekends through university, and I managed to pass with quite good marks thankfully. You take an oath when you graduate medical school, to help others, and to be honest.
However, there was no oath that the world would help me, or be honest with me.
I became a doctor primarily to help. What I did not sign up for was to be sent to the slaughter. I did not become a doctor to die for others. I too am still a person, a patient, a woman, a human being. Do I not have rights? Do my friends who are pregnant not have rights? Does my colleagues who are close to retirement not have rights?
When this country went on lockdown, I had trust in the system to provide us staff with safety of equipment, of PPE (personal protective equipment). However, in reality, this is what happened: my close friend, who works on the medical wards, was asked to remove his facemask, that he bought, as the hospital did not have enough, and that it would ‘scare the patients’. He was told this by the head of the hospital. The Boss in other words. He like so many are forced to do this. It is 2020 in Britain. We are a developed country, supposedly. How can you force a doctor to work in these conditions but forcing that they essentially die for the job?
Sorry, that was not in my contract.
I was forced into a position to do home visits without PPE, and because I take my job seriously, and care for my patients, I did not know how to say no. I feel ashamed of myself that I degraded myself, and took advantage of myself to continue working without protecting my life. Even I did not protect myself. And If I don’t protect myself, who will? Certainly not the trusts, nor the country.
Since that day, I have now said no to further visits now patient contact without PPE. But what do majority of us have now? We have some pathetic plastic apron with no sleeves as the PPE. That is to serve school lunches, not go and save lives.
The country has shown magnificent strength from individuals in providing PPE, doctors and staff are fundraising their own, and donating. But why should it come to these measures? Why? We are Britain? Aren’t we? I have already lost a friend to COVID, as well as many I know and work have died.
You cannot force doctors to sacrifice their life for the work. My life is important, so is my friends, we should have to fight that basic right. The most simple thing you can give us: PPE.