A year ago, an exhausted nurse at the end of her tether made an emotional video plea which went viral.
She was Dawn Bilbrough, a critical care nurse from York. She released the tearful video on 19 March 2020 after finishing a 48-hour shift to find the shops stripped of food by panic buyers.
Her plea was shared by thousands of people, and was one of the early viral videos of the pandemic.
A year on, Dawn said today she might quit nursing after a year which had been “relentless, incredibly traumatic and emotionally and physically exhausting”.
Dawn, 52, was speaking in an interview being aired this lunchtime on BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend.
‘We have witnessed so much’
She told the programme: “There have been times when I’ve come home and had a good cry, because we have witnessed so much.
“We’re at the patient’s bedside 12 hours a day and they haven’t had that usual psychological support from their families.”
It means health staff “got to know them as people, their likes and dislikes, their dreams; and then they’ve become really unwell and been placed on ventilators and quite often they haven’t got through that.
“And that’s been difficult because personally I’ve felt a bond to my patients, and to witness them not progress as we would wish, that’s been really hard.”
Days after her viral video, Dawn developed coronavirus symptoms.
In her BBC interview, Dawn describes how losing so many patients became a “burden”.
Before the pandemic, she might lose a patient in intensive care once every two weeks, but during at Covid’s height several were dying every day.
And in the last wave over winter, more died than survived, Dawn said.
“I was once working in a pod where there were four patients with Covid,” she said.
“I left my shift at 20:00 in the evening. When I returned the next day all the patients had died, and were replaced with different people.
“Although it’s hard bearing this burden, you don’t become desensitised – if you do, it’s time to give up the profession.”