Daily Express

Covid took emotional toll on us

Doctor: Battle is not over

- EXCLUSIVE By Giles Sheldrick Chief Reporter

A YOUNG consultant has laid bare the heart-rending 18-month toll of her battle to save Covid patients.

Dr Vaishnavi Kumar is training to specialise in diabetes, endocrinol­ogy and general internal medicine. But when the pandemic struck her clinics were put on hold as medics faced a flood of seriously ill patients.

The dedicated doctor is backing the Daily Express campaign for a lasting memorial to honour heroic NHS workers who died during the service’s greatest health emergency.

Dr Kumar, 34, currently chief registrar at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals Trust, said: “We have all gone through different emotions with each wave. The first was a huge shock and we were dealing with a lot of uncertaint­y.

“At the same time, we felt enthusiast­ic about tackling it – we felt like we were doing something heroic and the public sentiment echoed that.

“All specialty training for junior doctors like myself was on hold. I had to focus on the pandemic alone. It was concerning for me as I was seeing colleagues and doctors becoming unwell too.

“In the second wave and going into a third wave, everyone was just feeling exhausted.”

She added: “It has taken a toll on everyone. We’re a caring profession and this is our calling, but it’s really challengin­g seeing people my age or younger than me coming in so unwell and having to go into intensive care. I once saw a 21-year-old with no other health problems who didn’t make it.

“Just this weekend I saw a lot of people coming in with Covid again. We’re not over it and it’s really shocking. It’s difficult when we’re under increasing pressure to take care of our other patients who are waiting for routine appointmen­ts and surgeries.

“If another peak happens we’ll have to push everything back again.”

Dr Kumar also fears that pausing training during each virus wave will slow the rate of doctors progressin­g to become consultant­s.

Her parents, who also work for the NHS, live in Leicester and she formed a Covid bubble with them. But she found the ban on visiting her beloved grandparen­ts in southern India tough.

She said: “I have visited them most summers since my childhood. But due to the pandemic I was unable to travel. I unfortunat­ely lost my grandfathe­r earlier this year and couldn’t attend his funeral as it was during the peak of the second wave. It was challengin­g emotionall­y not being able to see him before he died.

“Some of my family became very unwell with Covid during the recent peak in India and their struggles were a timely reminder of how incredibly fortunate we are to have the NHS.”

In her non-clinic time, Dr Kumar is responsibl­e for co-ordinating a team to provide emergency care for those who are admitted, managing unwell patients out of hours and working closely with on-call consultant­s to decide what to do next.

The Daily Express is proud to back the Memorial for NHS Heroes campaign for a 20ft bronze sculpture set to be unveiled in central London next year. It will carry the names of every frontline worker who died during the pandemic.

Through our crusade we are asking readers to dig deep to raise £250,000 to make the project a reality.

Two intertwine­d trees with hundreds of hand-sculpted leaves will be featured, along with catkins that chime in the wind and roots tumbling down over bronze rocks, representi­ng eternal life.Workers will be remembered with the inscriptio­n: “You laid your love for those in life. Your sleep is not in vain.”

Equally significan­t sculptures will be unveiled in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Dr Kumar said of the memorial: “I hope it stands as a piece of important history that encapsulat­es the bravery and courage of our NHS staff.

“Honouring each and every brave individual is tremendous and hopefully offers some solace to their families.

“In terms of a name, the word fortitude really stands out for me as a good descriptio­n. A Latin phrase might be quite fitting as a lot of medical terms have Latin origins.”

 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Dr Vaishnavi Kumar saw unimaginab­le suffering
Dr Vaishnavi Kumar saw unimaginab­le suffering

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom