As England hospital admissions increase, emotional reserves of frontline NHS staff diminish

It’s 5pm in a busy London hospital and a patient who came in a few days ago has deteriorated rapidly. The woman in her 60s has coronavirus. In a few days, she has gone from coping well to her oxygen levels dropping dramatically.

This is a moment that replays in the mind of Ian (not his real name), a junior doctor who works in an infectious diseases unit in the capital. It stands out for a number of reasons: Ian had barely eaten that day, surviving an unrelenting shift on coffee, and his unit – which usually has 30 patients a day when things are busy – was full with 55 patients. The woman’s deterioration was unexpected and she was someone who would normally be fit and healthy, with years of life ahead of her.

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