When lockdown began I was working on various projects for film and theatre including working on my play, Her, to approach bigger London theatres, I will need to now hold off until next year. I haven’t had a chance to really take in what that meant for me as a creative as I am working as a doctor in this time, and the impact of being a doctor on the frontline has been so huge.
I am a doctor of mental health and have been working in the NHS since 2012. My days are very varied. Sometimes I cover admissions in A+E, sometimes work on the ward, sometimes patients are brought in by the police for assessment. Mostly I work on the children and adolescents clinic. I help run the list of cases and I will be the doctor on call if needed. I often use my theatre and film skillset in my key role. I have even led a drama and writing group with some of my patients which has been an excellent tool for them to express themselves away from formal therapy sessions.
COVID has had an enormous impact. I have had to move house in order to get to work more quickly and I have had to sacrifice annual leave. We didn’t have PPE for a number of weeks which was really hard as it put staff in a difficult position having to work without lifesaving equipment. We have changed the service in this time, trying to minimise the number of people in the building. We’ve had a new rota with most staff working from home if possible and doing their consultations over the phone. That was hard; as a doctor I get most of my information from physical examinations and face to face consultations.
I think this time of COVID has revealed a harsh truth: when it comes to a crisis we are on our own in the NHS. I have been disappointed with the government in how they have responded to this pandemic. I wrote a poem called Object about the NHS Heroes, in which I asked; ‘you wouldn’t send a soldier into war without a gun, so why let your doctors go to work without a mask?’. The reality is that the government does not care for staff in the NHS, that my life is not deemed important. It saddens me that I have worked my entire life to become a doctor and this is how I and my friends have been treated. My friend wrote a will in case he died. He is 32.
I have to say I am so grateful for my creative friends, they have kept my morale high, my spirits excited, and I love that in the face of this tough time, we have found ways to keep growing and developing.