Plymouth doctor says NHS staff are 'overwhelmed, anxious and afraid' as Omicron cases soar

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A doctor at the South West's largest hospital says the strain of working on the Covid front line is having an impact on her mental health - with many of her colleagues feeling "overwhelmed", "anxious" and "afraid".

But despite the continued pressure of rising Covid cases and the Omicron variant, Dr Eunkyung Lee said she is proud to be working in the NHS and determined to keep helping those who need it most.

Dr Lee is the chair of the junior doctors committee at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth - which is the region's biggest hospital - and an executive member of the BMA national junior committee and chair of the Peninsula Regional junior doctors' committee.

She told ITV News the impact of the pandemic on staff's mental health and wellbeing is "immense".

More than half of junior doctors have reported experiencing depression or anxiety. Credit: ITV News

"A lot of junior doctors find it quite overwhelming. Personally I found it quite challenging as well. I've never felt that feeling of uneasiness going into work," she said.

"We are all human beings, so it can be quite emotionally challenging I have to admit. But it's important that we have a certain amount of detachment from it to look after our mental health and wellbeing."

In a survey by the British Medical Association earlier this year, 58 per cent of junior doctors said they were experiencing anxiety or depression, with 46 percent saying this had worsened since the start of the pandemic - and 27 per cent said they were now more likely to take early retirement.

It is not just doctors feeling the strain, the Royal College of Nursing says its members are also close to breaking point.

Lucy Muchina, RCN regional director, said: "They won't even take time out because that means you are letting down the team.

"Nurses will always work, and continue working, but how far can you stretch it? It is a difficult place to be in."

The Royal College of Nursing says its members are exhausted. Credit: ITV News

Despite this, Dr Lee - who is a vaccine ambassador working to help minority communities get access to their jabs - says she is proud of the NHS and has never considered leaving the profession.

"It's been such a rewarding time, this is what I have signed up for," she said.

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