A GWH medic has filmed video diaries at Great Western Hospital to show the reality of the frontline battle against coronavirus.
Respiratory consultant Dr Mark Juniper recorded four busy shifts working in the intensive care unit and Neptune ward between January 30 and February 2.
The footage revealed the numerous challenges staff have to face on a daily basis.
Dr Juniper said on Saturday: “I’ve just received a handover covering the ICU on a thirteen-hour-shift. We’ve got thirteen patients in today, so let’s see how it goes.”
Later that day he added: “So I’ve just come out of the blue Covid area on the respiratory ward, and I have seen a man about my age who we’re about to admit to intensive care because he quite likely needs to go on a ventilator.”
One of the things that struck him about the ICU is that there is “always a sense of calm”.
After finishing a shift of just under 13 hours at around 8pm, he said: “We kept all the patients safe and I guess on a positive note, that’s pretty good in recent times.”
Dr Juniper donned his mask and face shield once again and started his Sunday shift at 8am. “It feels like only a few moments ago that I was here before,” he said.
“We’re running two units, the main unit is just like it would normally be at this time of year, yet we’ve got an extra area, an extra intensive care unit and we’re stretching our staff.
“They all look tired. I feel tired, it’s just hard work.”
“We’ve had a couple of admissions in the last twenty four hours,” he said. “Once they come in it sometimes takes a few weeks for them to get better, so it’s very easy for the intensive care unit to fill up.”
Filming a patient being moved after being put on a ventilator, he said: “The hardest thing was hearing the patient on the phone to their family, and with all the emotion locked up in that because people have heard about ventilation.”
At the end of the day, he said: “So I’ve now finished thirteen hours on Sunday, and it’s been quite a hard, long tiring shift.”
Starting another day Monday, he said: “7:30 am to get a couple of hours in the office to clear a backlog that’s accumulated while I’ve been doing clinical shifts.”
He also filmed his colleagues in the putting on their PPE and getting ready to go into the Covid section of the ICU.
The following day he said: “It’s 6:30pm and I guess I’m just reflecting on the last four days.
“The striking thing to me is the effect of Covid on patients, on families and on the staff.
“So, in the intensive care unit, the patients are scared – the ones that are conscious. Some of the staff are finding it difficult to find the energy but they still do the job professionally, brilliantly, they’re a great team.”