Covid: On the Frontline in Chesterfield's ICU

More than 300 people have died with Coronavirus at Chesterfield Royal Hospital since last March.

Our cameras filmed inside the intensive care unit where the number of covid positive patients coming in continues to rise. They have 16 ICU beds and they're full.

Dr Tim Meekings has been an intensive care consultant for 12 years and has never experienced anything like it.

He says people who believe that some hospitals are empty "should come in...get dressed in PPE and help with patients," so they can see what the everyday reality of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is like.

The ICU is where the most seriously ill patients receive specialist care.  Usually in ICU, one nurse looks after one patient. Now, they're caring for two, sometimes three patients.

Mandy Marples, a senior matron in surgical support services, says fighting the pandemic has been a massive challenge. They need more equipment and more importantly, more staff.

The desperate need for more nurses means many are drafted in from other wards and retrained. For some, this can be a huge shock to the system and can take time adjusting to their new environment. 

Until recently, Kate Davison was an orthopaedic nurse at the hospital. She said that although it's been upsetting and difficult at times, she's more than happy to be helping her colleagues in ICU.

Staff work 12 hours shifts and the pressure and stress they face day in, day out is clear to see.

While we're all being encouraged and told to social distance and avoid physical contact, the staff in ICU hold the hands of patients, stroke their hair and provide a comforting and reassuring presence.

Sally Moore, an ITU sister says nurses often form close ties with their patients, who because of the nature of the illness, do not always see their loved ones face to face.

It was fascinating to see the team at work and it gave me a real insight into what they do in the most difficult of circumstances. Each and every day, they're seeing and experiencing people they've cared for die. This must affect them in a way I can't imagine. They support each other and are offered psychological support from the hospital trust. Only time will tell what impact this is really having on their mental health.

- Rajiv Popat, Reporter

Fortunately for many people, the symptoms are not life-threatening, but some do require long spells in hospital and it can seem like an endless battle.

One patient who has experienced the effects of coronavirus first hand is Raymond Shawcroft who is 49.

He isn't in intensive care but a respiratory support ward. Mr Shawcroft has diabetes and a number of heart problems. When he contracted the virus, it came as a bolt out of the blue.

- Filmed by Rachel Hobday

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