To exhausted healthcare workers like me, Covid conspiracies are a kick in the teeth | NHS | The Guardian
We are nearly a year into the pandemic, yet widespread denial of the pathogen and the crisis still persists. The hard objective truths are undeniable: millions infected globally, hundreds of thousands dead and a lightning-quick scientific breakthrough with vaccines now beginning to be rolled out around the world.
For most healthcare workers, life is split into two: the outward reality we share with our family and friends (the Instagram fodder of home-cooked meals and time with loved ones), and the peculiar and often traumatic inner world of working in healthcare, where supposedly once-in-a-lifetime events such as births, deaths and life-changing illness occur daily.
Right now, this second world feels darker, more chaotic and uncertain. Covid is ripping through hospitals at an unprecedented rate, while an exhausted workforce, already running on fumes not from “just another winter surge”, but due to a second wave of Covid cases worse than the first, attempts to battle it. For us, the objective truth is undeniable: patients are desperately sick. Patients who often decline quickly and suddenly, needing intensive care, ventilation and specialist support.
And yet in the outer world, our social media and even newspapers amplify a different “truth”. That there is no major emergency, that it’s misdiagnosis or global hysteria, which every major country, and their established academic and medical bodies, has inexplicably and simultaneously fallen prey to. Perhaps it was too much to ask that the brief period of trusting and listening to experts during the early days of the first spike might last through the winter.
These two worlds are difficult for healthcare workers to reconcile.
Perhaps most confusingly: “It’s just like every winter for the NHS.” Firstly, winter in this country for the health service is no garden of delights. It is an ever-worsening pandemonium resulting from an underfunded, understaffed and under-resourced health service grinding on, fuelled by the goodwill of its workers. That being said, now that we face a virus that can cause such rapid deterioration on top of our annual cataclysm, and can so utterly overwhelm intensive care departments, we are indeed facing an altogether worse proposition. On Wednesday alone, 981 people died of Covid.
The virus has returned in full and terrifying force. But public goodwill seems not to have done so to the same degree as in spring. The attacks from Covid deniers are a kick in the teeth. Their claims cause outrage among staff exhausted by shifts, only to have their lived experience, their sacrifice and their suffering, and the suffering of the patients in front of them, denied.