‘It’s brutal and we are sinking’ – York A&E doctor reveals stark reality of NHS frontline

Dr Sarah Addis – worried about the future. Photograph: Facebook

‘People need to know that this is real and we are sinking. Please, please stick to the lockdown rules.’

This is the message from a hardworking A&E doctor at York Hospital, who took to social media to plead with people to follow lockdown rules for the next few weeks.

Dr Sarah Addis shared a photo of herself in PPE and referred to herself as a “desperate A&E doctor who really wants to be able to see her family and friends too”, as she asked people to keep sticking to lockdown for a little longer.

It came as the Government said a further 1,325 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Friday – the highest number of UK deaths reported on a single day since the outbreak began.

Dr Addis said the number of people dying both saddens and terrifies her.

She said ambulances are queueing at the hospital, that the site is so busy that social distancing has become difficult and that she fears patients in need of emergency care will be affected.

‘We are being overrun’

York Hospital. Photograph: Richard McDougall

Dr Addis wrote: “It’s brutal and we are sinking.

“Quite simply we are being overrun. And we are starting to see younger and sicker Covid patients.

“My biggest worry is that we are at this stage and we predict things will only get worse, as we will see the effect of Christmas mixing sky rocket over the next 10 to 14 days.

“We have no more scope to cope either in terms of staff resilience or plan B. We do not have elastic walls – we have no more room at the inn.”

And she revealed the personal toll the pressure is taking on staff, saying some patients who come to the extremely busy A&E department can be abusive and argue about being asked to wear face masks.

“It’s demoralising and exhausting,” she said. “It makes me question if I even want to stay in medicine anymore, I question my faith in humanity.”

She urged people to stick to lockdown as strictly as possible to protect themselves, the NHS and its staff: “People need to know that this is real and we are sinking.

“We have a huge percentage of staff either off with Covid or isolating, we are at the end of our tether but we do see a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of the vaccine and the lockdown.

“It feels like this is the final push we need to start to get back to some form of normality, but I worry how many people will die without Covid but certainly as a result of it before we reach the end of that tunnel.”

‘Moving account’

A spokesperson for York Hospital said: “This moving and very personal account illustrates how tough it is for staff right now, who are working on the frontline to care for very poorly patients.

“Day after day staff are working incredibly hard in the most challenging and demanding of circumstances.

“As described in this account, our emergency departments are extremely busy, so please only attend if it is an emergency, and for everything else use 111 online or on the phone for advice.”

“The number of Covid-positive inpatients in our hospitals is now higher than the number we experienced in the first wave, and the virus remains a very real threat.

“It is so important that people do everything they can to stop the virus from spreading. Please follow the guidance of hands, face, space, stick to the lockdown rules, and get a test if you have symptoms.

“We have comprehensive plans to release additional beds and staff, which allow us to flex our hospital capacity and community services as needed in response to growing numbers of Covid patients.

“This includes regional network plans to help care for intensive care patients.”

York’s Covid rate was 559.8 cases per 100,000 people at January 3 and predicted to rise further.