'Exhausted’ and ‘anxious’: Nurse speaks out following coronavirus outbreak at Cwm Taf hospital

Video report by ITV Wales reporter Kate Lewis

A nurse has told ITV News she feels "nervous" and "anxious" walking into work, after an outbreak of coronavirus in hospitals in the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board area.

Those working on the front line in our hospitals are "exhausted, stressed and scared" about the next stage of the pandemic, according to the Royal College of Nursing.

More than 330 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus in hospitals throughout Wales - and the pressure is mounting on those dealing with patients.

Cwm Taf confirmed on Tuesday that 38 people have died from an outbreak in its hospitals.

It said 32 deaths occurred at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant, while there has been four at the Prince Charles Hospital and two at the Princess of Wales hospital.

A Cwm Taf nurse speaking anonymously to ITV Wales reporter Kate Lewis. Credit: ITV Wales

Speaking anonymously, a nurse who works within the health board said: "It takes me probably about an hour to or so to calm myself down."

"For me, it is a challenging day and it's just coming home safely because you are exhausted, you are constantly on your feet."

"You're making sure your patients are safe, your self is safe as well. Yeah I think it's a pretty hard day working in that environment," she said.

The nurse took a Covid-19 test as she started to experience mild symptoms -  it was positive.

She said that she worries "every day" that she could be asymptomatic and pass it onto colleagues and patients.

"You don't know, deep down, you don't know when you're working with these patients day in day out so I think that the staff need to be tested nearly every two weeks at least so that way you know that you are safe to work in the environment."

"It scares me at the moment just to think what else is going to come and hit us now. For me, it's about taking it day by day and tackling it I think." 

Cwm Taf University Health Board said staff receive "regular asymptomatic testing."

"Staff who develop symptoms are encouraged to contact a priority booking line to ensure they are able to access a test as quickly as possible," it said.

Credit: PA

The RCN is calling on the public to support all those on the front line. 

The nurse, and others who have spoken to ITV Wales, feel key workers were well supported at the beginning of the pandemic, but she believes that "it's all died off."

She said: "I feel like they [the public] just see it as the hospitals' fault, they basically have to be doing something wrong there to be having all these high numbers of cases and deaths, but they obviously don't see what we go through every day."

"We are doing everything we possibly can to look after their loved ones," she added.

The RCN said staffing "must be a priority to ensure patients receive the right care. We are scrutinising the winter plans and how health boards are going to ensure clinical services are staffed appropriately."

Nicky Hughes, who is the associate director of the organisation in Wales added: "We do need to get back behind the NHS, we need to be behind our nurses."

"You know they've stepped up, they continue to step up even though they are exhausted and I think the public need to really think about how we can support the NHS and how we need to live our lives within the restrictions we've got."