Advertising

More deaths of frontline staff a ‘certainty’ says Sandwell hospital boss

By Tom Dare | Sandwell | Coronavirus | Published:

It is a "certainty" that more NHS frontline staff in the West Midlands will die in the fight against coronavirus, a leading NHS figure has warned.

Toby Lewis is the chief executive of the Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust

Speaking during a weekly briefing Toby Lewis, chief executive of the Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, paid tribute to 36-year-old Walsall nurse Areema Nasreen, the mother-of-three who died after testing positive for coronavirus on Friday.

But he added that signs from other parts of the world indicate that Ms Nasreen will not be last frontline NHS worker to die in the West Midlands, saying that "with the greatest regret, I think that is a certainty" that the death toll will rise.

Ms Nasreen became the youngest NHS worker in the country to die from coronavirus this week, after being placed onto a ventilator at Walsall Manor Hospital where she spent more than 16 years working as a staff nurse on the acute medical unit.

More coverage:

Mr Lewis began by paying tribute to Ms Nasreen, adding that her death "really brings home to local healthcare workers the scale of what we are facing".

“I think it’s right to begin by paying tribute to Areema Nasreen, a staff nurse in one of the neighbouring hospitals to where I work,” he said.

“She worked with great dedication and compassion over many years at Walsall Manor, and she passed away sadly in intensive care this morning. Every death in care is a tragedy and whilst we talk about the number of people affected by Covid-19 it really brings home to local healthcare workers the scale of what we are facing.

Advertising

“And in that vein, I want to express the NHS’ thanks to everybody that works in the service for the work that they’re doing, but also to their loved ones and families, who are working with them, with their own anxieties and fears, as we go through this challenge.”

At least 66 frontline healthcare workers have died from coronavirus since the start of the outbreak in Italy, with frontline staff reported to make up approximately nine per cent of coronavirus cases.

Four doctors and a mental health nurse have also died from coronavirus in the UK so far, bringing the total number of deaths to six across the country.

However Mr Lewis warned that it was clear that this figure would rise in the coming days and weeks.

Advertising

“It’s clear from overseas that healthcare workers are at risk,” he said.

“They are at risk not only from the patients that we look after, but from each other. That’s why it’s really important that there is social distancing by people looking after other people.

“In organisations across the NHS, our own included, there is additional grief counselling and psychological support being provided to staff, because they are working in situations that are very different to those they have worked in before. And part of the challenge for caring professionals is looking after people at a distance.

“Ordinarily if someone looks after someone toward the end of their life that is quite a tactile, interactive thing to do. And we’re needing to look after people through PPE, and at a distance, and that imposes some challenges. And when you talk to people who work in the Italian situation, it’s clear the support psychologically that’s needed to be provided in that setting.

“But the question is ‘will more healthcare workers pass away’, and with the greatest regret I think that is a certainty. It is a collective effort to try to minimise the number of tragedies we see in people that serve within the NHS.”

Tom Dare

By Tom Dare

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Advertising

Top Stories

Advertising

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News