"Morale at the moment is low"
Nurses on the frontline have been working at full capacity during the last week.
Holly Turner, a sister on Ward 12 at Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, has been giving an insight into her role during the pandemic with a diary as part of the #BeatCovidNE campaign.
The 26-year-old said: “I got a shock returning to work. Things have been busy but steady for the last few weeks.
"But this week Ward 12’s Respiratory Support Unit (RSU) has been at full capacity treating extremely poorly patients.
"Several of those patients have been escalated to the Intensive Therapy Unit (ITU) following a deterioration in their condition. This means these patients need the maximum support we offer. It’s been intense.
“I’d like to thank the respiratory specialist and lung cancer nurses who have been supporting us throughout the pandemic. I know it’s been hard for them both emotionally and physically.
"As a nurse, I understand that every day they’re still thinking about their usual patients and duties. My hope is they can return to their specialist roles soon but right now their continued support is vital in our fight against Covid.
“Morale at the moment is low. Treating extremely poorly patients is intense and emotional. How young some of the patients are is also shocking.
"It’s affecting my team. I supported one of my nurses after her patient said she was scared to go to ITU.
"We understand how our patients feel but ITU can provide them with the increased level of care they need.
"The hardest part for my colleague was telling her patient’s husband. He fell to pieces on the phone when he found out his wife was moving to ITU. There’s no preparing you for these hard conversations.
“I always tell my team they are doing the very best they can. Every day we provide the best possible care. We are doing everything we can and that’s all we can do.
“While the UK is easing out of lockdown, for the NHS some things will remain after the pandemic – practices and procedures we can take forward.
"New policies around staffing levels will help ensure wards like mine have sufficient support to enable us to provide the very best care we can.
“During the pandemic, we’ve set-up various daily and weekly meetings to share and address staffing and capacity issues. It’s helped to improve communication between teams.
"Last but not least is increased hygiene. This will be the same for us all. Alongside hand gel throughout the hospital are newly installed sinks so staff, patients and visitors can wash their hands.
“While we have been, and still are, going through a lot right now, we will come out the other side stronger.
“Reflecting on my personal experience of working through the pandemic, I’ve learnt that I am resilient. I am capable of more than I thought.
"I applied for the position of Ward Sister after being a qualified nurse for two years. After a month on the job the pandemic hit.
"My mum was really worried about me. She didn’t want the stress and pressure to cause me to fall out of love with nursing.
"That hasn’t been the case. I am still as dedicated now as when I first became a nurse. I am proud to be a member of the NHS.”