BMA Chairman: Doctors and Nurses Were Not Prepared To See So Much Illness and Death During the Pandemic


Doctors and Nurses Were Not Prepared To See So Much Illness and Death:  British nurses and doctors are groaning under severe stress, fatigue, and anxiety due to the Covid-19 crisis that has brought so much death. The NHS fears they will see a mass exodus of healthcare providers as a result of the ongoing burnout.

According to a recent poll by the British Medical Association (BMA), once the coronavirus pandemic is over, 51 percent of clinicians are more likely to work fewer hours, 26 percent are more likely to retire early, and 22 percent are more likely to leave the NHS for another career. The BMA chairman, Dr. Chaand Nagpaul, observed that NHS workers were reporting high levels of stress and fatigue, and as many as two in five have not had a break since the first wave of the pandemic began in March. He said: 

“When we saw Covid start […] this was an experience that no doctor or nurse was prepared for, to see so much illness and death.”

A Serious Situation

There are currently over 200,000 Brits hospitalized with the virus, with tens of thousands needing ventilators. Meanwhile, the virus has killed at least 50,000 Britons. At least 600 healthcare workers have also succumbed to the coronavirus. Speaking to the pollsters, over 40 percent of doctors said their stress and burnout levels were higher; 59 percent reported undergoing severe fatigue, while 40 percent hadn’t been able to take an adequate break since the pandemic struck in March. The BMA chairman said the survey findings described a serious situation. He told British MPs: 

“We must find solutions and address this. The biggest constraint is not having the time and not having space to properly care […]. It really does upset and demoralizes healthcare professionals and doctors when they can’t do their best, and they’re working under this extreme pressure.”

Afraid Of Getting Infected

According to Dr. Nagpaul’s testimony, doctors have described things like the emotional impact of holding common items like a smartphone or an iPad as being the vehicle of contact between patients in their last phase of life – and relatives. He also described situations where many were forced to do different jobs than they were trained to do. They were afraid of getting infected themselves. They are humans; they were afraid of getting infected. He added: 

“They saw their colleagues getting ill – one junior doctor told me that the stress and the emotional impact it had on her to be treating her own consultant, the consultant who was training her, in intensive care. That is what doctors have had to work with and other healthcare professionals.” 

Meanwhile, the scale of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Americas is unprecedented, an official with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said recently in a press conference. And nowhere has its impact been bigger than in the healthcare workforce. PAHO Director Carissa Etienne, MBBS, MSc, said that nearly 570,000 healthcare workers in the Americas had fallen ill with COVID-19, and more than 2,500 have died. Overall, there have been almost 13.5 million cases in the Americas and more than 469,000 deaths. 

The Greatest Threat to Prosperity

According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the coronavirus pandemic will end up costing Americans $16 trillion. The amount is far more than anyone predicted when the virus first emerged in the U.S. back in March. The study was co-authored by former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers and Harvard University economist David Cutler. Summers was also a top economic adviser to Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton and is a former president of Harvard.

Their estimated cost includes a theoretical estimate for human life’s value and is spread out over the next decade. It also relies on an estimate that the eventual U.S. death toll from the pandemic will more than triple by the end of next year. But $16 trillion is still an eye-popping number and underscores the novel coronavirus’s long-term impacts and the U.S.’s inconsistent attempts to contain it. The study is listed in the medical publication as a viewpoint and does not appear to have been peer-reviewed. The authors wrote: 

“The coronavirus is the greatest threat to prosperity and well-being the U.S. has encountered since the Great Depression.”