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ICU nurse who pleaded with panic buyers in pandemic ‘not sure’ she will stay in nursing

One year on, Dawn Bilbrough reflects on the emotional toll on nurses of COVID-19
image from Dawn Bilbrough video, when she pleaded with shoppers not to stockpile essential foods

Dawn Bilbrough reflects on the emotional toll on nurses of caring for patients critically ill with coronavirus, one year on from her viral video message to shoppers

The critical care nurse whose tearful plea to panic-buyers went viral early in the pandemic is reconsidering her career in light of the stress of the past year.

Dawn Bilbrough posted her heartfelt message on social media , pleading with supermarket shoppers to stop stockpiling essential foods after she had been unable to find fruit or vegetables following a long shift.

After her high-impact video, supermarkets introduced protected shopping times for NHS staff and other key workers.

Video captured

Dawn Bilbrough reflects on the emotional toll on nurses of caring for patients critically ill with coronavirus, one year on from her viral video message to shoppers

image from Dawn Bilbrough video, when she pleaded with shoppers not to stockpile essential foods
Dawn Bilbrough’s plea in the early days of COVID-19 pricked the public conscience

The critical care nurse whose tearful plea to panic-buyers went viral early in the pandemic is reconsidering her career in light of the stress of the past year.

Dawn Bilbrough posted her heartfelt message on social media, pleading with supermarket shoppers to stop stockpiling essential foods after she had been unable to find fruit or vegetables following a long shift.

After her high-impact video, supermarkets introduced protected shopping times for NHS staff and other key workers.

‘Video captured me at one of my lowest points’

Reflecting on that moment one year on, Ms Bilbrough said the video had shown her at one of her ‘lowest points’.

She told BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend on Sunday she was now reconsidering her long-term career plans.

‘We’re at the patient’s bedside 12 hours a day; they haven’t had their families, so we’ve been their everything’

She said: ‘I will certainly remain in nursing for the foreseeable, but long-term, I’m not sure what my plans are going to be.’

She said working in critical care during the pandemic had been emotionally exhausting, adding: ‘We’re at the patient’s bedside 12 hours a day and they haven’t had their families, they haven’t had that usual psychological support they would receive from their family, so we’ve been their everything really.

‘We’ve got to know them as people, their likes, their dislikes, their dreams, they’ve talked about their families. Then, of course, they’ve become really unwell, and they’ve been placed on ventilators, and quite often they haven’t got through that and that’s been really difficult.’

Go to our nurses’ well-being-centre

Coronavirus pandemic – an event that was unimaginable

Ms Bilbrough, who has been a nurse for almost 20 years, admitted she could not have imagined dealing with something like the pandemic.

She emphasised she and her colleagues had remained professional but that it was a human response to reconsider career options after experiencing high levels of stress.

Increased public appreciation of nursing profession

Asked if she felt more valued as a nurse, she said that people had come to realise how highly skilled and knowledgeable critical care nurses are.

She said she hoped the respect for the profession would continue and that people will remember ‘the sacrifices and the burdens’ that had been made.


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