NHS staff on a Covid second wave: 'We are mentally prepared'

Video report by ITV News Health Editor Emily Morgan

NHS hospitals across the country are gearing up for an impending second wave of coronavirus infections, coupled with the usual pressures of the winter months.

ITV News has heard from medics at Southampton Hospital where a newly opened intensive care unit, empty for now, is ready for more patients - as the number of cases are on the rise.

Respiratory Consultant Dr Sophie Fletcher says units are better prepared this time around, with treatments developed over the past six months ready for new Covid-19 patients.

An empty critical care bed in the newly opened unit. Credit: ITV News

"We've now got two treatments that we can offer patients when they arrive with Covid," she says.

"Namely remdesivir and dexamethasone - that we know work in terms of reducing the duration of the illness and in terms of reducing the chances of them requiring intensive care.

"That makes us feel a bit more confident."

As for the mental, physical, and emotional strain on NHS staff, senior charge nurse Simon Jacob said: "We are mentally prepared because of the experience we had from the first one".

"It's helping us to deal with any challenges in the future. We can do it".

Dr Sanjay Gupta treated just under 100 Covid patients in his unit at the peak of the pandemic. Credit: ITV News

Dr Sanjay Gupta echoed that message of hope, "we're starting for a different platform" he says.

But the hospital's Chief Medical Officer Derek Sandeman echoed the warning the prime minister has issued, that it will be regular services that suffer if and when a second wave hits.

"The NHS always struggles over winter," he told ITV News, and hospitals find a way of coping by, among other things, "reducing elective activity to create the space for emergencies".

"I think if there's a large second wave, again, we will end up stepping down more elective activity than we would choose to".