Express & Star

NHS angels on the frontline at hospital where nurse died of virus

Meet our NHS stars performing daily acts of heroism at Walsall Manor Hospital where nurse Areema Nasreen died after battling coronavirus.

Meet the NHS heroes caring for patients with Covid-19 at Walsall Manor Hospital where nurse Areema Nasreen died after battling coronavirus. All portrait images: Tim Thursfield/Express & Star

The NHS heroes leading the fight against coronavirus have risen to one of the biggest challenges ever faced by this country, bosses said today.

Those on the frontline at Walsall Manor Hospital have "stepped up to the challenge" despite the unabating pressure of Covid-19 and the tragic loss of a colleague which has taken its toll on staff.

That is the view of Angie Dixon, matron for critical care, who said the last week had been "particularly harrowing following the death of nurse Areema Nasreen after contracting" coronavirus.

But she said it has strengthened the resolve of nurses and other staff to help beat the virus and treat patients to the best of their ability.

Matron critical care Angela Dixon

Ms Dixon said: "Staff across the board have maintained their professionalism as a whole. Their dedication and compassion has never wavered.

"They are coping and still doing a sterling job. We plan to monitor how staff are."

Ms Dixon said emotional support would be made available for staff, particularly in light of the death of Ms Nasreen.

Areema Nasreen pictured after graduating in nursing in 2019. Photo: Twitter

She said: "It's very harrowing. That's when it brings it all home

"We are arranging for psychological support to be made available. We are co-ordinating how we can get that support in place for staff who are working very long hours, a lot of shifts, coupled with the amount of sickness we have got and the increase in patient need.

"We are making sure we communicate with each other."

Support service supervisor Linda Noakes at Walsall Manor
Porter Adrian Cooksey
Consultant medical micro biologist Dr Aiden Plant

She added: "It's not something we ever envisaged. There are plans in place but I never imagined we would see anything like this."

The matron said spirits of doctors and nurses had been lifted by support from the public, including the minute's applause on the last two Thursdays.

"It really has lifted spirits," she said. "Staff did feel particularly strengthened, by the public in general. It makes you feel someone is thinking about you."

Sonia Chand, deputy director of pharmacy, said: "They have handled it quite positively. That's what you do when you work for the NHS. You get up and deal with it, handle the increasing demands."

Deputy director of pharmacy Sonia Chand

She said the death of Ms Nasreen had been felt by everyone at the hospital.

"Any patient who passes away always makes you feel sad. We wouldn't be human if it didn't bother us.

"In my eyes she is a heroine. It is very, very sad. It affects us personally because she was one of our own."

Aditya Kuravi, critical care services lead, said the hospital had been overwhelmed by the number of coronavirus cases and that it was not known whether new ventilators sent to the hospital to help the battle would work.

Critical care services lead Dr Aditya Kuravi

The West Midlands has been a coronavirus hotspot and witnesses some of the highest number of cases.

Mr Kuravi said: "The whole arena has changed to a war footing. Essentially we are firefighting, caring for patients on an emergency basis, stabilising them very quickly and hoping for a turnaround. We are buying them time to recover.

"The frustration is the volume of the workload coming in. Normally we talk to families, update them and they have got time to grieve. Unfortunately now because of the volume of work and the speed at which things are changing it is very difficult for families to get to terms with it."

He added: "We have tripled our bed capacity in intensive care and we have got contingency plans in place to expand into other areas.

Walsall Manor Hospital

"Essential procurement has supplied ventilators. These ones we are not used to on our wards. There is an element of training, an element of quality assuredness of the ventilators.

"Over the next one or two days we will know whether the ventilators are something we can use comfortably or whether we consider sending them back. This is a whole Black Country issue."

Mr Kuravi said: "I don't think the NHS was prepared at all."