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The sound of life on the NHS frontlines

A very special story from our #StayHomeSounds project today, with this recording of a health service worker in the UK donning protective equipment provided by Dr. Sarah Whiteside, who told us her story:

“I’m a GP in a Fulham, London. General Practice is unrecognisable from what is was a month ago. We used to have a waiting room full of patients and now it is deathly silent. We are all still here though, we are all still busy, seeing patients by video, mainly.

“We still see patients at the practice too but our doors are locked to protect the staff from people just wandering in. The patients buzz in and are immediately handed a mask. We work in teams, some seeing ‘clean’ patients with no Covid symptoms for baby checks, immunisations, back pain etc.

“The ‘red team’ sees patients with potential Covid symptoms. Some days we are redeployed to the borough hub, seeing the more risky cases or visiting Covid patients at home.

“For every patient we have to prepare – a surgical mask, a plastic apron, a pair of goggles, and double latex gloves is all that stands between us and Coronavirus. But the PPE is also there to protect patients from us as we might unwittingly be infectious or carrying the virus on our clothes.

“Once the patient examination is over, we must start the decontamination process. Clean every piece of equipment used, every surface touched, even the door handles with disinfectant. Then we decontaminate ourselves – first pair of gloves off, remove apron by ripping it off, rip off face mask carefully so as not to touch our faces, and then the second pair of gloves; all goes to clinical waste. We wash our hands and wrists carefully, singing happy birthday twice as we do so and then disinfect our goggles for next time.

“Then the next patient comes in or we go to the next house and we do it all over again. The sight of us jumping out of the back of a cab in full PPE is clearly terrifying for the public – we clear entire streets in seconds. But our presence is also reassuring – when the public see us in our scrubs or wearing our lanyards in public without the scary PPE, they wave and say thank you.”