Frontline workers in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire have been recording eyewitness accounts of their daily work lives amid continued pressure on local services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a unique series of self-filmed video diaries, staff from a Bristol hospital, a Minor Injury Unit and a GP practice are among those sharing what it is like working to support patients during lockdown.
Contributors include A&E Consultant Rebecca Thorpe who shares a day working at the Bristol Royal Infirmary: “The department is really busy now, but the team have done a fantastic job and kept everybody safe.”
Kingswood GP Dr Richard Berkley tells how primary and community care is getting busier: “In my 25 years as a GP I’ve never seen the system under as much pressure as it is now.”
The video diaries are part of a multi-agency campaign called Covid Stories, run by Healthier Together partners including Sirona care & health, OneCare, Bristol City Council, University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, along with Avon and Somerset Police.
It is hoped these first-hand accounts of life for health and care workers will help to remind people to continue sticking to lockdown rules including Hands:Face:Space, and to treat health and care staff with kindness and respect.
Director of Public Health for Bristol City Council, Christina Gray said: “Our healthcare systems are now under huge pressure supporting more people than ever who are very unwell. We all need to do what we can to prevent the spread of infection by not mixing with others and staying at home. If we do have to go out for essential trips or work we must wash our hands, wear face coverings and keep at least a 2 metre distance. Every small action makes a difference.”
Deirdre Fowler, Interim Chief Nurse at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Coronavirus has had an impact on us all and we are seeing patients daily who are affected by it.
“We are incredibly grateful to our staff who are dealing with difficult situations every day and working through a period of unprecedented demand for the NHS, which is under intense pressure locally with large numbers of cases of coronavirus as well as the usual winter pressures.
“The best ways you can show your support for the NHS are to strictly follow the latest Government lockdown guidance around coronavirus, and to use services appropriately. Unless it’s a serious or life-threatening situation, anyone thinking of visiting A&E should click or call 111 first. Clinical staff will be on-hand to ensure you get to the most appropriate urgent care service first time.”
Mary Lewis, Director of Nursing, Sirona care & health said: "We are so proud of our staff for the hard work, care and dedication they have shown throughout the pandemic and the level of care we are continuing to provide across our local communities at such a challenging time. Some of our staff have also lost loved ones to Covid-19, contracted the virus themselves or had to care for family members self-isolating at home. As these video diaries show, we are doing the best we can but without the support of people across the South West continuing to follow the rules and reduce the spread of this deadly virus, we will not be able to reduce the pressures on our NHS alone."
Superintendent Andy Bennett said: “In the darkest days of this pandemic, the NHS has stood strong under immense pressure and we’re all so grateful for the incredible work they’re doing every minute of every day.
“Our policing response has always been focussed on engaging with the public and explaining the importance of the regulations in place to save lives and prevent the NHS from becoming overwhelmed, encouraging them to comply and using enforcement wherever necessary.
“These video diaries show the reality of life on the NHS frontline and I would urge the public to watch them, share them with their family and friends, and do everything they can to follow the rules in place to stop this deadly virus from spreading any further in our communities.”
Thank you to all of our frontline and healthcare workers, including those who have shared their stories on video, for their continued sacrifice and hard work to support local people in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.
Covid Stories can be viewed at https://bnssghealthiertogether.org.uk/covidstories/
Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.