'Knowing that the public is supporting each other keeps me going' - an open letter from a doctor

Thursday, 2nd April 2020, 8:39 am
Updated Thursday, 2nd April 2020, 8:39 am

Today, newspaper titles across JPIMedia are joining forces to celebrate the #healthheroes who are working tirelessly on the frontline of the coronavirus crisis.

We want to hear your messages of support for those working in the NHS, and you can join our dedicated Facebook group or follow our Instagram page to read other people's stories.

Here, we publish an open letter from Dr David M. Smith, junior doctor and member of BMA Yorkshire Regional Council:

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Working for the NHS has never been harder. Every day is a new problem, a new way of working, a new dilemma we have never faced before. The pressure front line staff are under has never been as great and we are all feeling it, every day. Despite the shadow of these difficult times, the support we have received from the public has been extraordinary.

As there are so few doctors at the moment we are having to work long hours with incredibly intensive shifts. After working a 13 hour night shift recently, I returned home to realise that my fridge was empty and a shopping trip was required.

After wandering around the supermarket like a zombie I went to the checkout to pay. As I took my card out of my wallet, I saw the cashier had noticed my NHS ID card. She looked at my haggard state, gave me a wink and a smile and simply said: “Keep going love”. I cannot begin to tell you how much that small act of kindness did for my mental health.

Just like everyone else, we are having to rely on video calls and text messages to keep in touch with our friends and loved ones. It is tough going to work and fight for the health of our patients whilst being worried that the next patient through the door is going to be a family member.

I was lucky enough to be away from work during the recent Clap for Carers. I was at home and able to hear the applause and fireworks from the people in my area. It was so motivational to know how much our actions are making a difference.

We’ve had so many kind gestures over the last few weeks. From cups of coffee to local businesses allowing us to use their car parking spaces. Supermarkets dedicating specific time for NHS staff to cakes being delivered to the wards. I am always proud to see how the public rises to a challenge in times of adversity.

I was asked recently how people can best support the NHS. People are so eager to do something to help during this pandemic. Everyone knows the guidance by now: stay at home and only travel for essential services.

Reducing the spread of coronavirus will limit the number of cases that will hit the NHS and allow us to best treat those who need our help. So please, do continue to stay at home. We know it’s not easy but it is helping us so much and we are so thankful.

Above this, what else would I advise you to do? Simply continue being kind to each other. The stories we have heard of people supporting each other are inspiring. Picking up the phone to an elderly relative so they can benefit from hearing the sound of a caring voice. Helping those who struggle with technology to do their online shopping. Kids entertaining their sisters and brothers to give Mum a small break. These are the things we need you to continue doing most. Simply be kind to one another.

I don’t know how long this pandemic will last but knowing that the public are looking after each other, supporting each other, showing that incredible kindness to each other, keeps me going. I know that when this ends, and it will end, we will be able to look back and be proud that we were there for each other.

#HealthHeroes

Show your support for the incredible work being done by those working on the frontline of the coronavirus crisis. Join our Facebook group and follow the dedicated Instagram page to read stories of everyday heroism and share your own messages.

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