NHS worker's tears as she describes holding her patients' hands

Emotional NHS worker cries as she describes holding her patients’ hands while they suffer without their loved-ones in intensive care

  • Healthcare assistant Nathalie Hoover sits with Covid-19 patients in hospital
  • She broke down as she described holding her patients’ hands in intensive care
  • Ms Hoover revealed NHS workers were doing the best they could on the ward 

An emotional frontline coronavirus NHS worker broke into tears as she described holding her patients’ hands in intensive care.

Healthcare assistant Nathalie Hoover was filmed at Cambridge University hospital as she donned her protective gear before heading onto the ward.

After describing the ‘very uncomfortable’ face masks she had to wear to cover her mouth and nose, Ms Hoover got emotional while talking about her patients being left alone as they suffered.

Tears fell from her eyes and her voice broke slightly as she said: ‘What I will say is that we’re always with them, when they’re alone there’s always a nurse holding their hand and we do the best we can.’

Healthcare assistant Nathalie Hoover at Cambridge University hospital as she tends to a patient with coronavirus

Before coronavirus Ms Hoover’s role had been to support families through their loved-one’s illness.

But now NHS workers are in the ‘very difficult’ position of potentially being the last person their patient sees. 

She added: ‘Where we’re so involved normally with the families, making sure that we’re with them every step of that end of life process, to all of a sudden now be in that environment where it’s just us with the patient is very difficult.’

To let their patients know who they are, underneath layers of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Ms Hoover’s team write their names and job roles on their blue surgical gowns.

In the short clip Ms Hoover is joined by her colleague Dr Andrew Johnson, a consultant in intensive care.

She explains how she gets ready for a shift while donning her protective gear (pictured)

While Ms Hoover described their PPE as ‘hot, sweaty, quite claustrophobic’, Mr Johnson revealed the nurses could only stand to wear the ensemble for four hours before the heat, dehydration and pain became too much.

He said: ‘The maximum time the nurses can wear it is for four hours, and that’s really it, they are suffering after four hours. 

‘Pressure sores on their noses and cheeks, very dehydrated very very hot wearing it.’

In the short clip Ms Hoover is joined by her colleague Dr Andrew Johnson (pictured), a consultant in intensive care

To let their patients know who they are, underneath layers of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Ms Hoover’s team write their names and job roles on their blue surgical gowns

It comes as a further 596 coronavirus deaths were today announced in the UK, marking the lowest daily rise for two weeks. 

The number of fatalities climbed to 16,060 as Britons were told many parts of the country were past the peak of the epidemic.

But the glimmer of good news jarred with the third highest jump of cases to date as 5,850 people tested positive, bringing overall infections to 120,067.

Yesterday, 21,626 tests were carried out, up from 21,389 the day before, as ministers urgently try to hit their 100,000 target by the end of the month. 

When this is over, we must give our most vulnerable the dignity they deserve – AND reward the heroes who give them such devoted care

By Sir Keir Starmer for the Mail on Sunday

Two weeks ago, when I was elected Labour leader, I made a promise to the British people that under my leadership my party will act in the national interest, help steer us through these difficult times and strive for the good of our country. I meant it.

The coronavirus pandemic is the biggest challenge we have faced in a generation. It is a health crisis, an economic crisis and – for many – a personal crisis. Behind every death is a family that has been shaken to its core.

At this time of national crisis, Labour’s duty – my duty – is to support the national effort to save lives and protect livelihoods.

That’s why I supported the Government’s decision to introduce the lockdown and why I backed last week’s decision to extend it for another three weeks.

The lockdown is extremely difficult for all of us. There is no doubt about that. But it is necessary to defeat the coronavirus and the Government can be assured of my support on that.

Equally, my duty is to call the Government out when I believe mistakes are being made, when decisions are being taken too slowly or when the most vulnerable are not being heard. The purpose of this challenge is not to score party political points but to ensure mistakes are rectified and progress is speeded up.

In that spirit, we all have to accept mistakes have been made. I fully accept that any government would find this situation challenging. But the Government was too slow to enter the lockdown. It has been too slow to increase the number of people being tested. It has been too slow in getting NHS staff the critical equipment they need to keep them safe.

We need to make sure these mistakes are not repeated.

And this week has exposed how the Government has been too slow to respond to the growing emergency in our social care services.

We have all heard the harrowing stories of the virus spreading through care homes, relatives unable to say their last goodbyes and staff poorly paid, equipped and protected to provide essential care. Ministers have promised action – that is welcome – but it needs to go further and faster.

First, our carers need to be kept safe. We have all been struck by the extraordinary service and dedication of our key workers during this pandemic. They are the best of us. These are people who are quite literally putting their lives on the line to care for our loved ones. But too many of them are being left exposed because of shortages of personal protection equipment (PPE).

The Government says it is doing everything it can to supply equipment. I do not doubt its sincerity. However, there is a mismatch between the statements coming out of Downing Street and the realities for staff on the ground. That needs to come to an end, and fast.

Second, we need more information. The crisis in our care homes has gone unheard for too long, in part because we do not know the full scale of the problem. That is why we urgently need Ministers to publish daily figures on the number of deaths in care homes. That is the only way we are going to know who has fallen victim to the virus, how fast it is spreading and the scale of response that is needed.

Third, testing, testing and more testing. Matt Hancock’s announcement that all care home residents and staff with symptoms would be tested is welcome.

But many of us will be asking why on earth was this not done sooner? A council leader I spoke to last week told me that of its 5,000 social care workers, only ten had been tested. That is astonishing.

As other countries have proven, testing is a vital weapon in our armoury to contain the infection and it will be central to any strategy to lift the lockdown.

Ministers promised 25,000 tests a day by mid-April, but that target was missed. Now they are promising 100,000 by the end of the month. They are unlikely to meet that target.

Many care homes are feeling overwhelmed, particularly those with an outbreak of the virus. I have spoken to care workers who are concerned about looking after coronavirus patients who have been discharged from hospital, because of the infection risk. The Government should ensure that where there is capacity at the new NHS Nightingale hospitals, it is made available for those who need it most, including care home residents.

Finally, we need a clear plan for what comes next.

The lockdown has been extended and I support that. But we need to have clarity about what is going to happen next.

Other countries have begun to set out a roadmap to lift restrictions in certain sectors of the economy and for certain services, especially social care, when the time is right. This of course must be done in a careful, considered way with public health, scientific evidence and the safety of workers and families at its heart. But the UK Government should be doing likewise.

We also need to make the case for a better, fairer society. Every week, we stand at our doorsteps to clap for our carers. We do so with pride, gratitude and a deep sense of national unity and purpose.

But, when we get through this – and we will get through this – we cannot return to business as usual. For too long, social care has been neglected. Our care workers left underpaid and undervalued. Our relatives denied the dignity they deserve at the end of their life.

We need a new settlement for social care. We can’t have another decade of this being thought ‘too difficult’ for politicians to solve.

We must go forward with the ambition and determination for a better society that puts dignity and respect at the heart of how we care for the most vulnerable – and how we properly reward our key workers and those who work in our public services.

That is how we can repay the debt we owe to all of those who have sacrificed so much during this crisis. That is how we can rebuild the better society the British people deserve. That is what I am determined to deliver.

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