A nurse’s describes returning to the NHS frontline to help fight the Covid-19 Pandemic
The Coronavirus has had a huge impact on all of our lives. Whether you are an individual who has suffered from this disease to those experiencing loss of a loved one – no one has escaped its emotional, physical and psychological impact.
None more so than our frontline health professionals who are providing healthcare and emotional support to all their patients – and to each other – during these exacting, frankly dangerous times.
For those healthcare professionals returning to the NHS after previously leaving their profession, the desire to help is overwhelming.
Rosy Boulton, 52, lives alone in Suffolk after recently separating. Rosy has three grown up children who all live in various parts of the country and New Zealand.
“I have a nursing degree RGN BSc and speciality in Critical Care nursing where I worked for 10 years in our local NHS hospital from qualifying as a nurse and rose to being a Sister on the Unit.
I left Critical Care Nursing in 2016 after 10 years’ service. I felt I had achieved all my personal goals working on the Unit and didn’t want to progress any higher which would have meant less patient contact as you climbed the ranks and that just wasn’t for me! You see I was a mature student when I entered this amazing profession after seeing the amazing nursing care my father received when he was dying of cancer. In fact, the nurse who took great care of him and inspired me to become a nurse is now a very good friend of mine and she encouraged me to be the best I could in Critical Care. I have a lot to thank her for. So patient care was always at the heart of nursing for me and management, with all its politics and bureaucracy, just wasn’t for me.
I then nursed in the Community for two years feeling I wanted to give a different arm of nursing a try and learn new skills. So I cared for a patient in her home who still required 1-1 nursing, hence continuing to put my Critical Care skills to good use. It was such a stark contrast to working in hospital where patients would immediately develop “white coat” syndrome and bow down to Drs and healthcare professionals in charge of their care, to me being extremely respectful of my new patient’s personal wishes on how she wanted to be cared for and her personal space, home and belongings.
I then stopped practicing nursing in 2018 to concentrate on my new business, running my own private medical skin clinic in Suffolk, Crystal Rose Skin Clinic, but continued to keep my nursing registration valid as this was highly regarded by my clients in the Clinic and also in case I ever needed to go back to nursing.
As soon as the Government informed the whole nation to go into lockdown in March 2020, I had no option but to close my skin Clinic for the foreseeable and hearing the hardship and struggles my old nursing colleagues in Critical Care were having to go through with the rise of COVID-19 patients, I immediately knew I had to go back to help and offer my services. I contacted my old matron on the Unit and registered with the local NHSP Bank service and started working immediately. Unfortunately due to the shortage of experienced staff, there was no going back gently for me after having left 4 years previously, and I had to pray my memory would not let me down. But it gradually all came back to me caring for the very sick on multiple lifesaving machines. My colleagues describe it like “riding a bike” – you never forget.
It was also great to be part of my old fantastic team of dedicated nurses, doctors and consultants again and I was even asked by a colleague why I’d returned. My response was “once a nurse always a nurse”… it’s in your blood!
My first day back was quite daunting, feeling nervous and wondering if I had made the right decision taking into account my own safety and exposure to the virus. But once I had recognized a few faces on that morning shift, I felt right at home again. Wearing full PPEs which were provided and working with wonderful new healthcare professionals who had been redeployed from other areas of the hospital to help in the critical areas was something I wasn’t used to either. I must say the PPEs are something you could never get used to wearing, feeling claustrophobic, hot, sweaty and barely being able to see through the goggles you had on due to the steam from your eyes, and then facing a Unit bursting at the seams full of COVID-19 patients all on ventilators and life support machines.
At times, I wondered why I’d volunteered – this was not the nursing I’d signed up to. This felt akin to a battle zone but instead of weapons as the enemy, it was an invisible deadly disease. On a daily basis I was seeing sad sights of patients struggling with every weakened breath, seeing their hearts take a hit with the impact of the virus taking over their bodies needing strong cardiac drugs and their kidneys packing up requiring dialysis and all the powerful drugs and medication given to keep them alive. Seeing patients at their most vulnerable time of need without family members being present meant that as a nurse you were the only one to hold their hand and be with them to comfort and tenderly care for their needs.
I was isolating alone but I could see the fear in my colleagues who had family and young children at home isolating with them, because of the fear of going home and spreading the virus. But each day an army of brave nurses and hospital workers would turn up to take on another horrendous day.
I know that this period in my nursing career will never be forgotten or repeated in my generation, going down in history. I feel enormous pride and a sense of being able to do my bit to help along with all the amazing key workers and volunteers across the country, all doing their bit in the nation’s moment of need. I know that we healthcare professionals ARE the frontline in this war and are proud and honoured to serve.
My children are very proud of the fact and not at all surprised that I returned to the NHS to offer my help. They were naturally very worried for my own health and safety but knew that I would never put myself in a compromised situation and make sure full PPEs were provided. They knew that my love for this vocation would make me want to help in whatever way I could.
I’m so proud of the accomplishments Major Tom Moore has done for the NHS so I am a strong supporter of his.”