‘NHS staff and key workers are human – we must take care of them’

Letter from: Cllr Sally Smith, Thorn Road, Worthing

Worthing Hospital being clapped by Sussex Police

Coronavirus has had an impact on all our lives and sadly at time of writing, more than 30,000 people across the UK with confirmed Covid-19 have lost their lives.

Medical workers are used to dealing with death, but that doesn’t mean they don’t feel its sting. Perhaps the most uniquely devastating aspect of this pandemic, which separates it from every other situation faced by professionals, is seeing colleagues rapidly switch from being the care giver to being the patient.

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To date more than 150 frontline workers have lost their lives. Every key worker, nurse, doctor, healthcare assistant, porter, is somebody’s relative and it is heartbreaking for all of us who are key workers to suffer the loss of our colleagues.

Weekly applause of key-workers, while uplifting to begin with, increasingly rings hollow as the death toll increases. Key workers are humans – and the dangers of stress, exhaustion and burn out are very real. We have seen in this pandemic how quickly people can transition from being apparently healthy to being desperately ill on a ventilator.

We must be mindful that workers are human and take care of them. Staff should never be placed under pressure to work unsafely, whether that is through long hours, the absence of proper PPE, or the burden of unreasonable expectation.

Both physical and psychological safety is important – having the right equipment plus support to feel resilient.

Please continue applauding but remember that NHS staff and key workers are mortals too.