June 16, 2020
 
The Medics Who Went Back To The NHS Frontline To Fight Coronavirus
Get the latest on coronavirus. Sign up to the Daily Brief for news, explainers, how-tos, opinion and more.
Clutching the hand of an elderly woman as she succumbed to coronavirus, nurse Victoria Meynell felt an overwhelming sense of emotion at being able to comfort the patient in her final moments.
Victoria, 38, a cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, was one of thousands of people who responded to a rallying call for people with clinical skills to return to the NHS frontline in the fight against Covid-19.
Those who had left the service in recent years were asked to “stand up, step forward and save lives” and within weeks, more than 10,000 people had responded.
Victoria, who used annual leave to return to the frontline, was just 90 minutes into her first shift on a hospital ward in 10 years when she encountered the woman who was in her nineties and dying of coronavirus.
Knowing that visiting restrictions meant her family could not be with her, Victoria made being with the woman her priority and was with her when she passed away. “I sat with her and talked to her and held her hand and showed her dignity and respect while she was dying,” Victoria told HuffPost UK.
“For her to have ended her life alone would have been heartbreaking and it was an honour to be with her in her dying moments, particularly as none of her family could be.”
 For her to have ended her life alone would have been heartbreaking and it was an honour to be with her in her dying moments.Victoria MeynellThe biggest realisation for Victoria was the severity of the pandemic and what NHS staff were having to face countless times a day.
“I realised that if I was having to face a Coronavirus death just 90 minutes into my first shift, this is what hospital staff must be facing many times a day,” she said.
Victoria, a mum-of-three, qualified as a nurse in 2005 and worked on a coronary care unit looking after people with acute heart problems, before turning to research and then joining the BHF.
But despite the fact that it had been a decade since she’d worked on a hospital ward, Victoria told HuffPost UK that when it became clear the coronavirus situation was escalating, she felt the “adrenaline kick in” and wanted to help.
Since returning to work at a hospital in the West Midlands in early April, she has been doing shifts ad hoc on weekends and days off while still holding down her full time job.
“I did feel like a bag of nerves when I entered the hospital for the first time,” she said. “It was daunting and I felt mixed emotions as I wanted to help but knew I would be rusty in many ways.
“I was assigned to a Covid-19 ward straight away and was kitted out in all the personal protective equipment (PPE) including a gown, visor, face mask, gloves and a hair cap. 
 “It had been so long since I had been on a ward and I suddenly went back at this completely crazy time and the reality of the situation hit.
“I took over from a nurse who explained all the patients on the ward had tested positive for coronavirus. They were mainly elderly patients with complex health needs and many of them had Do Not Resuscitate care plans in place so their treatment would not be escalated to intensive care if they deteriorated further.”
Victoria said she did fear passing coronavirus on to her husband and three children, and took precautions such as undressing at the front door and putting all her clothing in the wash and disinfecting any handles and surfaces.
 Even though we were in a time of crisis, everyone pulled together and people adapted so incredibly to the challenging situation.Victoria MeynellBut she says that her anxieties melted away when she was actually in the hospital and the sense of camaraderie and the feeling of “we are all in it together” made her feel heartened and resilient.
“Even though we were in a time of crisis, everyone pulled together and people adapted so incredibly to the challenging situation,” she said.
“It felt good to know I was making a difference – particularly to individuals and the enjoyment comes from knowing you have helped people and working together to make sure the NHS didn’t get overwhelmed.
“But I felt the real heroes were those who do this Job in the hospital every day and it was heartening to see their attitude and the way they kept going.”
Vanessa Smith, a senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, also responded to the call for help. 
The 34-year-old approached her manager and asked if she could take a two-month secondment from her role. She is now working at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.She told HuffPost UK: “It felt right to offer my help by going back to the wards and putting my clinical skills to use.”
Vanessa had previously worked at the hospital before joining the BHF and was still in touch with her former colleagues. When she realised how busy they were, she knew she wanted to do her bit.
Her role at the BHF involves making sure the information booklets published by the charity are medically accurate and patient friendly. So it did feel daunting to return to the frontline at a time of crisis.
“It was exciting jumping straight back into the deep end, but I also felt anxious as I knew I would be looking after some of the poorliest patients with Covid-19,” she said.
“We wore PPE to fully protect ourselves but the hoods made it difficult to hear and for the patients and staff to identify us so we had our names written on the hoods.
“All the extra layers and tight face masks made it very hot so we had to rotate every few hours so we could have breaks to drink water and have food.”
 Within a day of beginning her shifts, Vanessa was looking after an elderly gentleman who was coming to the end of his life.
Vanessa told HuffPost UK she helped set up a Skype call with the patient’s family so they could be with him at the end virtually, while she was with him in person.
“I brushed the gentleman’s hair so he looked nice for his family and chatted to him and held his hand and made sure he was comfortable.” she said.
“We set up the Skype call so his family could be with him towards the end and say their goodbyes and so that he could hear their voices before he sadly passed away.”His family were there virtually at the end while I was there with him physically holding his hand. Luckily, he had a peaceful end and wasn’t alone.Vanessa SmithVanessa said the hardest part of the pandemic is seeing people die without their family there.
“I’ve seen some of the lows of people losing loved ones too soon due to this virus. But I’ve also experienced the feeling of relief and joy for patients whose health has improved and hopefully they will get to return home,” she said.
“I’ve seen first-hand how much this virus can affect people who were previously independent and working.”
Vanessa said her time on the wards has been tiring due to the long shifts and huge emotional impact, but said it had been great to support fellow staff.
“Everyone is still smiling and giving the best possible care to patients despite feeling anxious themselves in the surreal times we are living in,” she said.
Chloe MacArthur, 34, told HuffPost UK she has no dependents – no children to homeschool or dogs to walk – so felt it was her duty to return to the NHS frontline.
She qualified as a nurse six years ago and had experience caring for patients in a specialist intensive care unit. She also works for the BHS, primarily on the heart helpline.Chloe has returned to do shifts at her former hospital Royal Brompton and Harefield Trust in Chelsea and has been looking after Covid-19 patients. She says it has brought home the enormity of the situation as her daily life hadn’t changed too much during lockdown.
 When someone is very sick, usually being there for them and holding their hand is the only thing loved ones can do for them. But at the moment, that is something they can’t do.Chloe MacArthur“Approaching the hospital was quite unnerving,” she said. “It was eerily quiet instead of there being a hive of activity in the reception area. 
“When someone is very sick, usually being there for them and holding their hand is the only thing loved ones can do for them. But at the moment, that is something they can’t do.
“It makes me think about how distressing it must be for loved ones at home waiting for news about their critically unwell husband, wife, brother or grandmother, unable to hold their hand while they sleep.”
She added: “Whether they are in intensive care or on the wards, they are more than just Covid patients.
“They are people who are loved and missed and it is a privilege to be able to look after them.”
Nicola McQueen, chief executive officer of NHS Professionals, an organisation that supplies temporary staff to the NHS, said: “We were really pleased to be one of the routes for nurses to return to the frontline during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We saw a fantastic response to our recruitment campaign: ‘Stand up, Step forward and Save Lives’.
“I’d like to thank all of those who stepped forward to lend their support and for their continued and ongoing commitment.”
 The British Heart Foundation has launched an online coronavirus support hub to provide information for people living with heart and circulatory diseases in these difficult times. To find out more, visit www.bhf.org.uk Related... 'I'm Just Doing My Part In A Small Way’ – The Unsung Heroes Fighting Coronavirus ‘I Can’t Sit Here Doing Nothing Knowing What’s Coming’ - The People Rejoining The NHS To Fight Coronavirus ICUs, Mortuaries And Prisons: The NHS Heroes Sent Into The Unknown When Covid-19 Hit
Related Stories
Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
Issa Rae and Yvonne Orji Dish on Season 5 of ‘Insecure’
October 22, 2021
KA7ZEjY3rvk
Kristen Stewart Opens Up on 'Eternals' LGBTQ Inclusion, Ruby Rose Battles with WarnerBros | The Take
October 21, 2021
7d3MFpaP2L8
AT&T Stock Falls Following Q3 Earnings Results
October 21, 2021
LZNkmpoVefA
Marriage Addiction, Big Ed Returns & Mailman Affair
October 26, 2021
-ToLxI1zOmw
Meg's Delivery, Ciara's Dinner & "DWTS" Horror Night
October 26, 2021
0W5ayUWdjho
Drew Barrymore & Ex Tom Green Reunite for 1st Time in 20 Years | E! News
October 26, 2021
U7lM-EPB9UA
Adam Levine addresses fan grabbing him during Maroon 5 performance | Page Six Celebrity News
October 27, 2021
81owF0TCJtI
Angelina Jolie says her kids can borrow ‘anything’ in her closet: ‘Take it’ | Page Six
October 27, 2021
xpjGjm8bnpo
Wendy Williams’ ex-husband Kevin Hunter is engaged to Sharina Hudson | Page Six Celebrity News
October 27, 2021
sqaYVw39mEU
The TMZ Celebrity Tour Meets the Fake De Niro | TMZ TV
October 26, 2021
KAgksJS0VfU
Tarek El Moussa And Heather Rae Young Get Married in Montecito | TMZ TV
October 26, 2021
WOVxOhxb8Gs
Alec Baldwin 'Rust' Actor Says Camera Was Protected During Shooting, Not Actors | TMZ
October 25, 2021
bASh7PtfiPU
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
19
Nov
ASIAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group H
Sydney FC - Shanghai SIPG
17
Nov
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Spain - Germany
14
Nov
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Germany - Ukraine
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester City - Liverpool
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - Aston Villa
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Valencia - Real Madrid
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Verona
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Bromwich Albion - Tottenham Hotspur
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Bologna - Napoli
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Genoa - Roma
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Atalanta - Inter Milan
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Lazio - Juventus
08
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Bayer Leverkusen - Borussia Monchengladbach
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leicester City - Wolves
08
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Wolfsburg - Hoffenheim
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Valladolid - Athletic Bilbao
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Levante - Alaves
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Sociedad - Granada CF
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Torino - Crotone
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Getafe - Villarreal
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Borussia Dortmund - Bayern Munich
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Everton - Manchester United
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Chelsea - Sheffield United
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Atletico Madrid - Cadiz
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Barcelona - Real Betis
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Augsburg - Hertha Berlin
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Stuttgart - Eintracht Frankfurt
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
RB Leipzig - SC Freiburg
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Rotherham - Preston NE
07
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Parma - Fiorentina
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Watford - Coventry
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Norwich City - Swansea City
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Blackburn - QPR
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Derby County - Barnsley
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Huddersfield - Luton
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Nottingham Forest - Wycombe Wanderers
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Ham United - Fulham
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Sheffield Wednesday - Millwall
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Brentford - Middlesbrough
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Birmingham - Bournemouth
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Sevilla - Osasuna
07
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Benevento - Spezia
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Crystal Palace - Leeds
04
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group G
Ferencvaros - Juventus
04
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group G
Barcelona - Dynamo K.
03
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group A
Salzburg - Bayern Munich
03
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group D
Atalanta - Liverpool
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
zWJ3MxW_HWA L1eLanNeZKg i1XRgbyUtOo -g9Qziqbif8 0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.