University of Portsmouth radiography students join NHS in frontline Covid fight
TWO student radiographers from the city’s university have been working on the NHS frontline in the fight against the Covid pandemic.
Anna Ibotson, 20, and Divia Shah, 21, have spent the last three months working in hospitals as part of their diagnostic radiography and medical imagery degree.
In the midst of the peak of the pandemic’s second wave the dedicated duo were supporting the treatment of Covid patients by carrying out chest x-rays and CT scans to enable doctors to assess damage caused to the lungs by the virus.
Anna said: ‘It was very stressful at the start as I was not sure what I was going to face.
‘We started to see a real rise in Covid patients after Christmas. The Accident and Emergency Department were really busy and the wards were close to capacity with doctors trying to ensure everyone had beds.
‘It was stressful having to deal with it all but I was glad to be playing a part and helping out.’
Divia added: ‘The doctors and nurses were so supportive and are doing a fantastic job in helping all patients. Seeing patients struggling for their lives only reinforced that I want to be part of the NHS and helping people to get better.’
Being on the frontline has given Anna a more tangible perspective on the disease and the need for people to follow Covid guidelines.
The dedicated student, who lives in Southsea, even moved out of her parent’s home and into hospital accommodation as she didn’t want to risk them contracting the disease.
She said: ‘Both my parents have underlying health conditions and so I couldn’t put them at risk. I was scared of Covid before I went into the hospital but I generally felt safe with all of the PPE.
‘I’m someone who would follow the rules anyway but seeing first hand the impact of the disease on patients and staff has only strengthened this belief. While most young people at university are following the rules if I see anyone who is not then a speak out and let them know.’
The students’ experience has only served to reinforce their desire to complete their radiography qualification and they are due to start a their second placements next month in what they hope will be ‘calmer circumstances’.
Anna said: ‘It was very much a case of being thrown in at the deep end. I got to see the worst of the pandemic and this will put me in a good position going forward.’
Divia added: ‘Working in the middle of a pandemic really prepares you for any future healthcare crisis and what needs to be done.’
The pair were working at Bournemouth and Salisbury hospitals.
The University of Portsmouth has seen a number of its students working on the NHS frontline in roles including nurses, mental health nurses and paramedics.
Deputy vice-chancellor professor Paul Hayes said: ‘Our students have risen to every challenge the pandemic has thrown at them and their contribution to the NHS and local community has been incredible.
‘They are a credit to themselves and the university.
‘While we understand the importance of supporting the NHS through this challenging time, we also acknowledge the need to guide our students through their education and provide them with the best possible experience and real-world-learning opportunities.’