Louisa Rose, Assistant Practitioner, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Working in the Intensive Care Unit during the Covid pandemic #womeninthenhs
Louisa Rose is an assistant practitioner at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. At the onset of the Covid pandemic in March 2020, she voluntarily transferred to the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.
Usually in Dermatology, Louisa has been working at the N&N for eleven years. In March 2020, the department had to close because of its location in the hospital between two covid wards, separated only by a short corridor. She was subsequently moved around different hospital wards, many of which also had to close shortly after. “I kept going to work and getting shifted around. I had no idea where I was going next. Finally, I asked if I could go and work on Intensive Care.”
"I was actually most shocked at the time by the number of people harming themselves, suicide attempts, those sorts of things."
When asked to describe her experience of working on the front line during the first wave of the pandemic, she noted that there were a lot of people working in the ICU but not many cases of Covid. “I was actually most shocked at the time by the number of people harming themselves, suicide attempts, those sorts of things.”
It was during the second wave of Covid, in January 2021, that everything got harder. “They told us it was getting really bad. I decided that I didn’t just want to sit around and wait to be sent somewhere else. I thought I’d rather go to Intensive Care and do night shifts. That was a lot harder. There was a lot of Covid. It was what they’d planned for, I think. Lots and lots of cases. I was thrown in at the deep end and it was really challenging, with lots of people suffering. But it was a privilege to be able to work there. I look back now and I think ‘I did that!’ I went and put myself out there. I learnt so much while I was there.”
"There's a new degree course...at the hospital, but there are only 5 places available for the whole hospital. There just isn't enough funding."
As a woman in the NHS, Louisa notes that maternity pay is excellent and that staff are supportive over childcare issues. The downside as a working mum with young children is getting the right support to complete her training. “I can’t stop work to go back and do a full-time degree. There are lots of assistant practitioners who don’t receive the encouragement to continue with their training. There’s a new degree course to train to become a registered nurse at the hospital, but there are only 5 places available for the whole hospital. There just isn’t enough funding. Unless you’re 18 and can afford all the university fees, that’s it really. You’re stuck where you are.”
For the future, Louisa is adamant she wants to finish her training. “If I do get on this course, I’d actually like to go and work in the Intensive Care Unit, full time.”