Hero nurses have experienced shocking abuse while trying to care for patients – they've even been spat at and called "disease spreaders" according to England's chief nurse and the Royal College of Nursing.
And only days into the growing numbers of cases of confirmed cases of Covid-19 and with the death toll at 177 nurses are wearing bin bags as makeshift personal protection equipment (PPE).
It doesn't bode well for the national plea from the NHS for retired nurses and doctors to return to help out in hospitals as things start to become critical.
The RCN said it had received anecdotal reports of community nurses receiving abuse while working in uniform.
Separately, England’s chief nurse Ruth May said she had heard reports of nurses being spat at.
RCN's director of policy Susan Masters, told The Independent: “These were community nurses who had to go into people’s homes and were in uniform.
“Members of the public who saw them called out to them and said they were ‘disease spreaders’.”
She added: “We don’t know how big this problem is, it is anecdotal, but it is absolutely unacceptable.
“We can’t have nurses who are running into the fire when everyone else is running away being abused. They are going in to see patients and caring for them when everyone else is keeping their distance.”
She said many vulnerable patients still needed care from nurses adding: “The public need to understand that nurses are socially critical and right now society needs us more than ever.”
England’s chief nurses Ruth May commented on a video by a distressed critical care nurse who struggled to buy food after working a 48 hour shift.
Ms May told Sky News: “There are many, many nurses like that critical care nurse last night who are working many, many hours.
“We’re asking all supermarkets to allow all of our healthcare workers easy access to buy their food and vegetables.
“I’d also make a plea for all the public to show kindness.
“We’ve heard that people are spitting at our nurses; this is just not right, they are working very hard. I would want to make sure we all play a part in this coronavirus fight.”
Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow was the first to call a major incident when they became overwhelmed by patients affected by coronavirus – which has since been stood down.
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Exhausted nurses revealed they were wearing bin bags to protect themselves.
A senior nurse at the hospital told the Telegraph they needed proper masks, gowns and gloves as she revealed staff were forced to wear clinical waste bags on their heads and feet for protection.
“We had to use our initiative. We had no other choice or we could catch the virus ourselves.”
“We need proper PPE kit now, or nurses and doctors are going to die. It’s as simple as that.
“We’re treating our own colleagues on the ward after they caught the virus from patients. How can that be right?
“There are so many younger people here on ventilation – many with asthma, or diabetes. They can’t stop coughing, they just cough and cough and cough and they can’t help it.
“But there’s little we can do apart from try to help them breathe. Sometimes the body just gives up, and they die. We can’t save them.
“And the worst part is that we can’t allow their relatives in to say goodbye.
“Even our own families don’t want us to come home in case we bring back the disease. What can we do?
“There’s too many Covid patients coming in to cope with. We put on our brave smiles but inside we’re terrified. I don’t know what will happen next."
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