On the front line: Sean’s story

As the second wave of the pandemic struck, senior staff nurse Sean Semple was redeployed to the intensive care unit as a surge nurse. There, he was inspired by the “astounding” care being given by passionate and dedicated colleagues who “show up wholeheartedly for their patients”. This is his coronavirus story.

Nurse in PPE

Fear of the known

During the Christmas period, when it became apparent that coronavirus cases were on the rise again and things would return to how they were in the first wave, there was a general feeling of fear among Sean and his colleagues. But unlike the run up to the first wave, the feeling wasn't the fear of the unknown, but the fear of the known, as Sean explains:

“When I was redeployed to the intensive care unit (ICU) at the start of January, my biggest fear was of being unprepared to deliver the care required in ICU. However, this fear was quickly subdued by the support I got there."

“The nursing team, both in teaching sessions and in the unit, clearly stretched and tired, still made the effort to teach and guide me. Their resilience and passion for high-quality care is beyond inspiring. From ICU nurses with 20+ years of experience, to nurses who decided to remain in ICU after the first wave, the ability to come in every shift (most working extra shifts) and deliver not only life-saving care but also creating time to deliver personalised care without fault, is astounding.

“Since being redeployed, I have been working night shifts to fill the gap where nurses are most needed. It has been tough seeing patients who I've cared for not get better, but equally it has been lovely to see patients improve and move to other wards where they can continue their journey to better health.”

Staff wellbeing support is making a big difference

Thanks to donations from our supporters, Guy’s and St Thomas’ has set up wellbeing zones and specialist psychological support. This is helping staff to cope with the mental and emotional challenges they face, as Sean discovered:

“I have found it very useful having support from the wellbeing zones, as they provide a quiet place to rest between shifts."

“In particular, being provided with food has been vital, as it means we don’t have to prepare it ourselves. This has enabled me to work more shifts, as well as keep away from shops, which helps keep the public safe.”

Proud of his colleagues

Sean has a special message for all his colleagues in the ICU, who are going above and beyond on every shift:

“I am particularly grateful to all the ICU staff who have not only supported me as I cared for patients here, but also giving their all caring for patients throughout this pandemic."

“I am proud to be able to call myself a surge nurse, and I am privileged to be able to work with nurses who show up wholeheartedly for their patients even in the toughest of times."

“I know a majority of patients cannot thank you right now but you have my utmost thanks, and I will never forget what you have given.”

Keep our NHS workers going

Many staff are still being redeployed, and any donation you make today will help to keep vital wellbeing support going so they can cope with the added demands. This includes:

  • Making the wellbeing zones, which have been such a lifeline for staff, permanent across our hospitals.
  • Offering a comprehensive psychological and spiritual support package, designed to meet the needs of the diverse workforce. This will aid ongoing and long-term trauma recovery.
  • Ensuring that, at whatever time of day staff may be working, they have access to complimentary coffee, tea and healthy snacks to help them recharge, boost morale, and feel valued and appreciated.