Armna Ali is a GP in Nottinghamshire.
March 2020, the time when COVID-19 restrictions started in England. People were scared of this mysterious new illness which was spreading across the globe at such a raging pace. The fatalities were unnerving. The world stood still; everything was put under the spell of slumber as everyone was asked to take refuge in their own shells.
Work from home, and furlough; the two popular 2020 phrases. Mum called from Pakistan, asking me to take some time off, to stay low, to protect myself as they heard of the worsening COVID-19 situation in England, especially amongst the BAME community. But in my line of work as a year-old GP I couldn’t work from home or apply for furlough. More importantly, as a doctor my work must not stop, especially in a time of crisis. This was my high. When everyone else was sheltering, I was going to the forefront.
As doctors, the first rule we are taught while approaching an emergency is to make sure that you are safe, and only then approach. COVID-19 management and PPE guidelines were changing on daily basis. Telephone consultations took the forefront. I was resistant and reluctant to this change, worried if missing anything… However, to call in a patient, I also had to consider the safety of the staff, the patient being invited, myself and any other visiting patients.
It was this time when I lost some dear ones to COVID-19, and this harsh reality stuck me numb.
It was this time when I lost some dear ones to COVID-19, and this harsh reality stuck me numb. And despite asking COVID screening questions a patient hid her high fever and cough and ended up passing the virus through me to my young family. Isolation was scary had it not been for the generosity and kindness of some dear friends, who looked after us, dropping in food and groceries. Otherwise I never stopped seeing patients face to face. We called patients in to the surgery sometimes to examine, sometimes because they had hearing or understanding issues, sometimes because they are not able to use video consultation because of lack of resources or knowledge or sometimes to check on their welfare as well. Those were hard times.
A patient hid her high fever and cough and ended up passing the virus through me to my young family.
Let us breathe and allow us a space to carry out their jobs. This is a national service with limited resources which we are providing to the best of our abilities, in the face of threats, abuse and off-putting complaints.
Don’t destroy general practice.