Harsh winter ahead

A BMA survey finds that doctors working in Northern Ireland are anxious about how the health service will cope this winter. Associate specialist in critical care Leanne Davison talks about how she is coping as a frontline doctor

Location: Northern Ireland
Last reviewed: 3 November 2020
Person on gurney rushed through A&E

I work in ICU (intensive care unit) in the Royal Victoria hospital, this is a regional ICU looking after not only the residents of Belfast, but also all of those from across the province who require specialist input such as neurosurgery. 

Currently we are designated as a non-Covid ICU but this doesn’t mean life is as it was before the pandemic. The reality is that we have to treat all new patients as if they have covid until we prove otherwise, which means full PPE (personal protective equipment). Wearing full PPE is emotionally and physically draining. 

Our staff, doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, auxiliaries, radiographers, cleaners, and porters have been working like this since March.

We are increasingly being spread thin as the numbers of covid patients requiring critical care rise while trying to keep other urgent services running.

More so than in first wave, many staff are off either having caught Covid themselves or isolating because a family member or contact is positive. Beds and ventilators are worthless without staff.  

We are not your front line in ICU, we are the last line of defence and we need you all to play your part – socially distance, wear masks and wash your hands to keep yourself safe, to keep us safe and keep our hospitals from being overwhelmed.  

Read more about the results of our survey