A medical director for the Trust that runs Hinchingbrooke Hospital joined the team on B14 ward at Peterborough City Hospital last week to care for patients with Covid-19.

Over the next few weeks, Dr Kanchan Rege hopes to join members of staff at Hinchingbrooke and Peterborough hospitals to walk in their shoes and find out what their experiences under such challenging conditions have been.

Dr Rege, said: “I wanted to be able to contribute to the clinical effort and play my part medically to help with the current situation. I was worried about being rusty, as I haven’t been a medical registrar since 1994, but I joined the team on B14 and was instantly made to feel welcome.

“My shift started at 8.30am and I did feel a bit nervous. It has been a long time since I have worked in this kind of role, but once I got into the swing of things it was fine. I started by putting on gowns and a mask. The full equipment is very uncomfortable and the mask is very tight on your face. There is a lot of time taken to put that on and it is incredibly hard to hear each other as your voice is muffled. The ward is a noisy environment and I had to really concentrate, especially during handover.

“I cannot speak highly enough of the staff on the ward. They were incredibly supportive of me and each other. The team spirit and pastoral care was brilliant. I did not have any recent experience of some of the issues that arose but they were very respectful of me and very thoughtful of the way they answered my questions.

“The care that I witnessed was outstanding. Patients were well cared for, under incredibly challenging conditions. I had underestimated the resourcefulness of our staff when using computers and juggling everything at once. I feel incredibly proud of all of them.

“It is better to keep the mask on for a whole session, so it is not easy to stop to have a drink part way through. When we had a break five hours after the start of the shift, we all took a break together. You need to make sure you eat and drink plenty to keep yourself well hydrated and the staff made sure that I was well looked after.

“This experience really helped me to understand what our staff are doing in the current circumstances. I wanted to get their perspective and to demonstrate that I am not advising them to do anything that I wouldn’t do. I have a huge amount of faith and confidence in our staff and this was confirmed after spending just one shift with the team on B14.”