COVID-19 visiting: families ignoring social distancing rules ‘adds to pressures’

Intensive care nurse says staff are facing the extra pressure of trying to enforce the rules
ICU matron Linda Gregson is pictured during her interview with US tv channel CNN

Intensive care nurse says staff are facing the extra pressure of trying to enforce the rules

ICU matron Linda Gregson is pictured during her interview with US tv channel CNN
Matron Linda Gregson Picture: CNN

An intensive care nurse has spoken out about the difficulty nurses are facing in dealing with relatives of COVID-19 patients who are not observing social distancing rules.

Describing the added pressure on nurses, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust matron Linda Gregson said in one video call arranged for a critically ill patient to see their loved ones there were many relatives crowded into one room.

Families not adhering to social distancing rules

‘On several occasions we have had to stop Zoom calls because there have been numerous relatives in the room not social distancing,’ she said.

‘Some relatives have come in (to hospital) and then sworn that just those two relatives will stay. And then people have swapped over during the night when the nurses haven't been looking,’ she said.

Ms Gregson, who spoke to American news outlet CNN about her experiences, said this has upset nurses further, as they feel they should have enforced the rules.

The trust's executive director of nursing Chris Pearson

The trust’s executive director of nursing Chris Pearson said the organisation had been trying to put measures in place to support the mental health of staff.

She explained: ‘We are very concerned about the rising COVID infection rates in Lancashire, and particularly the East Lancashire area. This is having a significant impact on our staff, particularly those nurses in the front line, like our ICU matron Linda Gregson.

‘This pandemic, combined with winter preparations and our efforts to restore other services to pre-COVID levels, means that the pressure we are working under is immense.

Putting measures in place to support staff well-being

‘There has been only one period of two weeks without a COVID-positive patient on the critical care unit since March. The staff are exhausted, so we are putting as many measures in place as we can to support their mental and emotional well-being.

‘This can be anything from hand cream and lip balm to sessions with therapy dog Jasper and more formal counselling for those who need it.

‘I am incredibly proud of our nurses and all our staff, who have come together as one huge team, and I'd like to thank them for their ongoing commitment and compassion.’

Talking about the importance of social distancing an RCN spokesperson said: 'People must continue to act sensibly and think of the nurses they've applauded before they do anything that could jeopardise their health and the health of others.'

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