COVID-19 case numbers are rising daily. Worldwide there are over 2.5 million new cases daily. The new variant, Omicron, is rapidly spreading across the world. Infecting what feels like everyone, including healthcare workers. The health system is not prepared for a disease of this magnitude. There is not enough protective equipment, vaccines, people to administer the vaccines, or staff.

Rising hospital numbers

Though Omicron is being largely reported as a mild variant, it’s very transmissible. Meaning the sheer number of positive cases will lead to more hospital admissions. I’m luckily on annual leave currently (super lucky, most people have had their’s cancelled) and nervously watching the numbers in hospital and ICU rise.

As the patient numbers go up, staffing is going down. Thousands of healthcare workers are off work, many are close contacts or COVID-19 positive. Emails, texts and calls daily are going out to medics asking for anyone to step up, come and work more.

My friend was called to work a night shift after finishing his normal day shift. There was no-one else to cover. It was him and one other doctor covering the whole 400+ bed hospital and the full COVID ward.

The fact that the numbers are only increasing makes me worried. Will it be like this for the next few months? Is it going to get worse?

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Nothing left to give

The thing is, healthcare workers have already been giving so much. We are giving our all, and have been for years now. The hospital system was already stretched at best before the pandemic, with understaffing a chronic issue. But now the pandemic is tipping it over the edge. Tired medics are being asked to give more when they don’t have anything left to give.

Close contacts to COVID-19 are being made to keep working. Around the world positive healthcare workers are being told to keep going to hospital. New rules being thought up daily – can keep working if no fever for 24 hours, mild or no symptoms.

What next?

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Getting out at the right time

Selfishly I’m so thankful that I didn’t apply for a job this year. I have 11 more shifts of the understaffed, overworked hospital and then I can pick and choose my work after that.

Though I feel bad for everyone that is needing to face this new wave of COVID, I know that I don’t have it in me to continue at this rate. Hats off to all the healthcare workers out there battling onwards.

I have a feeling this won’t be the end of my medical career, but I can rest assured in the knowledge that I’ll have slightly more control over my time very soon.

Photo by Oluwaseyi Johnson on Unsplash