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“The ward really is like a family – I felt torn between them and my actual family,” said David*, an NHS nurse from Oxford. “But in the end, I felt I couldn’t let my colleagues and patients down by not being there in what is rapidly becoming a crisis.”
Across the UK, 20,000 former NHS staff have returned to the frontline to help fight Covid-19 – and they have rightly been applauded for their brave decision.
But working alongside them is another group who have made huge personal sacrifices to save lives as coronavirus sweeps the UK – new parents who have ended their maternity or paternity leave early.
David’s baby – who was born on March 17 – spent a week in the high dependency baby unit after a difficult birth. But just four days after they were discharged from hospital, David was back on the specialist surgical ward where he works.
“After talking to the ward sister, I felt obligated to return to work early – even though it makes things very difficult at home,” he said. “But it was clear that I would probably be making more difference than any other time in my career by donning my uniform.
“I went back to work on March 25 and – as things are at the moment – three hours into the shift, we had our first Covid-19 death on the ward.”
It was “bitterly disappointing” not to spend two weeks at home with his new baby as David had planned.
“But what I think all of us worry about much more is bringing the virus home. With inadequate PPE, it seems like an inevitability,” he said.
“The trust response to this has been pretty blunt – if you don’t like it, find alternative accommodation. But it would be pretty soul-destroying to be working in these conditions and then go back to an empty hotel room.”
David added: “Of course, my family are also worried about me too. It’s no secret that healthcare workers...