'There are scenes of unimaginable sadness', London doctor on coronavirus frontline tells ITV News

  • Video interview by ITV News Presenter Julie Etchingham

A London doctor at the frontline of the coronavirus outbreak has told ITV News of the "scenes of unimaginable sadness" and spoke of the "sickening panic" she and her colleagues feel about what is to come.

Dr Katie Sanderson said the situation was "really, really horrible" as she described the challenge, in the face of so much death, of not treating every patient as "a number".

Dr Sanderson said she was speaking out because she wanted the country to be prepared for what London was already facing.

"There are scenes of unimaginable sadness and I speak for myself and my colleagues in other London hospitals, patients are just dying who have staff members who are relatives who go straight back to work. It's really, really, really terrible," she said.

Dr Katie Sanderson said the situation was 'really, really horrible.' Credit: PA

"I'm talking because I know that we could have been more prepared in London and I feel that people could be more prepared elsewhere in the country."

She said it was important not to treat patients as a statistics.

"The challenge for me when multiple people are dying in a day for them not to be a number, to have a conversation with relatives, with patients about their death, about the the death of somebody in their family that is meaningful and that makes it as good as it can be. And that is hard when you're dong it multiple times a day."

Dr Sanderson told ITV News that she personally felt she had all the equipment she needed for her most recent shift, but did not think hospitals on the whole were prepared.

"I think among my colleagues here and in other hospitals there is a sickening panic about what is to come," she said.

Dr Sanderson said the scenes of people not social distancing were 'deeply upsetting.' Credit: PA

Asked about the prime minister's response, she said she hoped lessons were being learnt and that information was being "shared effectively with hospitals around the country".

"We're discovering for example that patients who require a lot of respiratory support desaturate when they're off oxygen and are going to need some sort of supplementary feeding because it is difficult for them to eat a meal while not on oxygen which I didn't know previously," Dr Sanderson said.

She continued: "We're discovering all sorts of things and I speak to colleagues, friends, in Scotland and all over the place and they have no idea because they're not seeing the volumes of patients and I obviously know much more about how to look after, and how these patients present, than I did last week.

"I really, really hope that we can communicate and share effectively so that others are as well prepared as they can be."

Dr Sanderson said the scenes of people flouting social distancing measures over the weekend had been "deeply upsetting" for her and her NHS colleagues.

As well as urging people to do more to stem the spread of the deadly virus, she gave this advice for anyone hospitalised with suspected Covid-19: "Please everyone take your nail varnish off. You can't read oxygen sats (saturation) with nail varnish on. Write down all your medications and your allergies and your medical problems on piece of paper and bring it with you.

"Bring a phone and a phone charger."

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know